While the dust from the elections of 2016 continue to settle and the political press clamors about the daily transgressions of President Trump, a story as American as Apple Pie erupted in Ohio last year in the form of David Sparks campaign for the Ohio Statehouse in District 43.
Sparks began his political involvement in earnest in 2015, when he helped organize the Bernie Sanders campaign and serve as a delegate for the campaign in Ohio Congressional District 10. He is married to wife Audra, and has two adult daughters, Hannah and Hunter.
Born the son of a Dayton, Ohio policeman turned Southern Baptist Minister, David Sparks spent the larger part of his childhood in the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky, where his father Tom served small Baptist churches like the Campton Baptist Church in Wolfe County, Ky. His mother Lynn was a nurse from a family of 10 children of Appalachians who migrated to the Dayton area in the 1930s to find a better life in what was a booming industrial city at the time.
Following a short-lived college football stint, David Sparks enrolled in the Ohio Army National Guard in 1987, serving eight years with a combat engineer unit. Simultaneously, he worked as a newspaper reporter and editor in his civilian life.
During this time, Sparks penned Briar Zen, a humorous collection of essays and columns, which became a hit on the underground indie literary circuit.
Fast forward through his 20s into his 30s, and Sparks was fronting one of the most unique musical acts of our time, drexel, which gained regional fame for its over-the-top comedic performances, cerebral lyrics, overt political themes and soulful melodies. During its 10-year heyday that began around 2000, the band played clubs from Detroit to Memphis, gaining fans among music lovers and makers alike.
During this time, Sparks also honed his skills as a political folk artist, creating simple and humorous, yet deeply metaphorical political protest art, working the Midwestern art show circuit in the summertime, and being featured in galleries from Cincinnati to Toronto.
In 2004, Sparks needed to obtain health insurance for himself and his family. So he took up driving school buses for Dayton Public Schools. During this time, Sparks was elected Vice-President of the Dayton Public Schools OAPSE/AFSCME Local #627, and represented local members in disputes with management, and helped negotiate contracts between the bus drivers union and the Dayton School Board.
Sparks’ experience as a union president was a catalyst for his continued political involvement.
In 2011, after going back to school while employed at Dayton Public, David Sparks graduated from Wright State University, completing a degree he had began over two decades before. It was at this time that David Sparks began The Dayton Informer, an online news outlet that became popular in the Dayton area for its realistic depiction of life in the area, investigative journalism and it’s coverage of the Occupy Movement. The Dayton Informer ended official operations in 2013, and Sparks began his own digital development business, buzzwad.com, which he operates to this day.
In 2014, David Sparks took his interactive development skills and teamed up with Code For Dayton, a civic hacking group that uses open-source computer code to develop applications that benefit citizens.
David Sparks was involved in developing lotlinker.com, a web-based application that allows users to quickly find abandoned homes that are available for to purchase for under $2500. The application has helped revolutionize the Lot Links program in the City of Dayton, enabling thousands of users to find eligible properties that once took a several step search of different web sites and downloadable data.
On the stump, David Sparks is fiery, passionate, personable and infinitely authentic. Despite his first-time candidate status, and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on a Republican smear campaign against him, Sparks finished the race for Ohio’s 43rd District with over 40 percent of the vote, positioning him for another, more successful run in 2018.
David Sparks has lived a unique American life story that gives him a perspective unlike many sheltered politicians who grew up outside of the tough neighborhoods of Appalachia and the Ohio Rust Belt.