I never liked the Dayton Daily News endorsing candidates when I was a candidate. The questions were weak, the answers weaker and the “basis” for their endorsement often was how much money the candidate had raised and who had already endorsed them. Now that the Dayton Daily no longer gives endorsements, the dummy voter slate cards will almost guarantee mediocrity at the ballot box, giving some very undeserving folks a shot.
Unfortunately- having campaigned around a lot of these people, and befriending some (the saying that politics makes strange bedfellows may only be applicable to me these days- since most politicians now seem so polarized it makes most of us sick) I’ve come to know them as people and friends. All are very human, have feelings, and are running for office because they believe they have a way to solve our problems. Some actually do have real ideas for reform, but, if they do, most are afraid to actually come out and take hard lines for fear of alienating anyone (then of course, there’s me, who has no problem pissing everyone off :)
The easy elections to pick are the ones that I don’t personally know the candidates. For president, Obama, because I’m afraid of Mitt Romney who at one point championed and actually ushered in Romneycare- which is virtually identical to Obamacare- and now is against it. I’m sure Mitt is a decent guy, but as with McCain before him, he put his spine away and has twisted every way the wind blows at the behest of polls and politicos. His assertions of not cutting defense spending guarantee that we’ll not solve our national financial problems sooner and his background from Wall Street means business as usual- unregulated and unfettered are sure to put us in an even deeper mess. Obama, now wizened by 4 years of being handed 2 wars, an economy in ruins and a congress made up of fools, may find a backbone for his last four years and push for real change and hope that he promised 4 years ago- or not. However, the choice of 2 more supreme court justices could make the difference in a lot of issues- including the opportunity to overturn Citizens United which is really killing our political system.
For Senate, Ohioans only have one choice, and it’s not the baby-faced Marine spewing rhetoric. Both are career politicians, but Sherrod Brown has been in politics before it was about big money and influence. Six years of Mandel and Portman and we’re in trouble. Brown all the way.
For Congress, Mike Turner has been handed a seat 5 times by the Dems. Vote for Sharen Neuhardt even though she’s everything Turner is- only not a crook. Turner should be in prison instead of Congress for the dealings of his wife and his pay to play politics.
The State Supreme Court has zero balance. It’s also still hamstrung by the candidates not being able to put their party affiliations on the ballot. Name recognition alone gets you elected. Considering judicial candidates can’t even talk positions, it’s hard for voters to know who to vote for. Please add Bill O’Neill and Mike Skindell to the bench and reelect Yvette McGee Brown to the court so we can have a chance to check people like Secretary of State Husted and Governor Kasich who have already proven themselves to believe they are above the law.
Locally, there are only a few races where voters really have a great choice- the 37th State Rep seat currently held by Jim Butler who is facing Caroline Gentry is a good example of where the system is giving you two good candidates to choose from. Of course, since the districts are all wonky, voters’ voices are skewed by gerrymandering. I like both of these candidates and think that it’s too bad they are running against each other, we could certainly use them in other places. However, Butler got his seat by appointment when Peggy Lehner moved up the food chain by appointment and the house is stacked with Republicans- so in order to bring some balance to our state I’d vote for Gentry. Unfortunately, in my district, the 39th, I get a choice between the qualified, but deeply political insider Fred Strahorn for the D’s and novice Jeff Wellbaum for the R’s. Strahorn is only on the ballot because another emocratic party favorite, Clayton Luckie got caught with his hands in the cookie jar. As much as I hate the culture of corruption in the local Democratic party, Welbaum would be underwhelming as a voice for our community. Roland Winburn is another Dem party insider facing Clayton Mayor Joyce Deitering- and between the two, this is also a no-brainer if you want a combative, self-righteous representative vote for Deitering, if you want a public servant- Winburn.
In the Ohio Senate race, we have Rick McKiddy facing Peggy Lehner. Again, because of gerrymandering, I’m suggesting you vote for McKiddy to bring some balance to the statehouse. The crazy thing is, Mrs. Lehner who I at one time considered a single issue candidate with her anti-abortion, anti-choice stance, has turned out to be a moderate collaborative legislator- and even voted against the insane “heartbeat bill.” Either way you vote in this race you win for honest representation, but, again, due to the insider political games- send a message that it’s time to put the power back in the hands of the people.
Most of the times, judges run unopposed in Montgomery County- thanks to back room deals by the parties who get nothing back from people who don’t vote on spending tax dollars (at best, Judges can reward their friends and family with patronage jobs- not big money contracts). But, this time, we’ve got a race where an aging incumbent is facing a great candidate who refuses to play the political game- C. Ralph Wilcoxson belongs on the bench for all the right reasons. He’s also willing to fight for ballot access by independent candidates- something near and dear to my heart. He’s one of the few people I truly believe will bring change to our community from the bench- unfettered by patronage, party or payola.
When it comes to the County offices- I’m in a state of disgust. The Montgomery County building is a den of nepotism, favoritism, patronage, plundering and bumbling. What’s worse, is we’ve got an interim County Administrator that the next bunch elected will choose. There isn’t a single candidate that’s running that I know well enough to say this person strongly deserves to be re-elected or elected, with the exception of our Treasurer Carolyn Rice. Although she’s part of the inner circle of the local Dems, I’ve always found her committed to doing the right thing- with an open mind. Her integrity is beyond question. Her opponent, Rene Oberer is so far out of touch with reality, you really don’t have a choice anyway.
I’ve always questioned if we really have 3 people on the current commission- Debbie Lieberman and Judy Dodge are as close as Siamese twins- which has always made me uncomfortable seeing them having private commission meetings with a majority of votes- well, all the time. Throw in the complete and utter milquetoast of Dan Foley and you have been paying for 3 minds and getting maybe one. Their lax oversight over former County Administrator Deb Feldman and the general slow speed of change in the county- along with the dual taxation system in Austin Road give me only one choice- vote against them. The opposition, former Sheriff Dave Vore is as capable as Dodge at doing nothing so he’s already passed the entry level test and that he knows the county better than most- makes him a credible choice. Ashley Webb is an odd bird in politics, as a West Point graduate he’s obviously passed the leadership bar on some level. He’s also been incredibly diligent about trying to learn how things work in the County building- going to meetings, asking questions, doing his homework. It’s refreshing. However, he’s done and supported some things I really can’t fathom, like term limits for Kettering Commissioners and cuts in pay. He’s not a rabid tea party candidate as the dems like to paint him- he claims to believe in social services, but, we’ve seen a lot of candidates say one thing before they do another. I’ve gotten to know Vore and Webb much better over the past year and think that if we put both of them on the commission, we might start to see business as usual go away. As much as I’d prefer to vote for Dems, I can’t vote for dems who I like as people, but abhor their tacit approval of nepotism, favoritism, and the idea that political parties are private clubs for their members advancement. It’s time to send a wake up call.
A shining example of absolute and utter disrespect for office is our county clerk of courts, Greg Brush. Hiring his father in law, at one time his wife, all the while thinking he actually deserves to be in office. His opposition, Mike Foley will get a boost from being confused with Dan Foley, who also got elected because of his name (his father was a long time judge), but that can’t hurt us. It’s time to take a clean sweep of people who take office as their personal playground.
Willis Blackshear is another dem insider. He’s generally done an ok job, however his pay for access to public records online is criminal. He claims to be working to end the policy, however, he still believes he was doing the right thing by “saving the taxpayers money” by getting the heavy users to pay for what is legally ours. Tim O’Bryant is someone I don’t know from Adam, but, if we want to see a housecleaning, this would be clear indicator to the local Democratic Party that you serve the citizens first and not yourself.
When it comes to issues, the two state issues are both a yes vote, only issue 2 really is important. The way we set our political boundaries is criminal. Letting one party vs another do it isn’t the answer. Technically- this could easily be done with a computer, with a set of parameters with weights- and let it run, but, anything is better than what we have. Please, if everything else disgusts you about this election- here’s your chance to make a change- vote YES ON 2. As to issue 1, why not have a review of our State Constitution? Maybe, we can figure out how to change it so we don’t put things in it like the address of a casino? Vote yes on 1.
The Library levy, issue 70, is one of those things that I despise. Yes, libraries are a good thing- and our library system is one of the best. Not as many people use the library as they could or should, and yes librarys are changing and they have to find their new role in the community. The problem is that they’ve done two things I don’t like- one, hiring Burgess out of Cleveland to run their campaign- and two, presented a plan that isn’t fully cooked. I don’t think that we should try to modify and adapt the current downtown library- the building is a mess on a messy lot. We could build a new one on the old site of the Patterson Career center and expand Cooper Park- maybe even turning the old library into a service center for the homeless (which it’s already doing dual duty as). Or, we could look at taking any number of large buildings that are available and converting them- like one of Mendelsons two old Delco plants which have floors thick enough to hold tanks- and parking garages already in place. I’m voting for the library levy– but hope they stop being stupid with their plans. I also believe that we should try to integrate schools with public libraries where ever possible- instead of separate buildings, but, that’s my idea.
If you have questions- please post in comments- if you have other races you want to discuss- same. If you find this useful- please let me know in comments. The Dayton Daily has built something close to what the BOE should build- at http://vote.daytondailynews.com/index.do so if you want to enter your choices and email yourself- give it a whirl.
Thank you for participating in the process and taking the time to be informed.