“He presented for the first time in a long time an intelligent counterargument to the Democrats. He’s not going to change me into a Republican, but it’s refreshing to hear someone say something with that much authority and understanding.”
That quote comes from an 18-year-old Oberlin College student who had just finished listening to a speech given by former Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, as reported by the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram’s Jason Hawk.
Newt Gingrich’s views have been publicized all through the MSM before, but here’s a person of voting age who didn’t suspect that Gingrich would have something “intelligent” to say. Wouldn’t it be nice if all persons of voting age had the opportunity to hear diverse political views unfiltered by the MSM? Most of the TV networks would never allow Gingrich to be portrayed as “intelligent” during the course of their news coverage.
But the Chronicle-Telegram also has this story reported by Cindy Liese:
Beginning next week, buses will cart hundreds of Oberlin College students to the Lorain County Board of Elections office in Sheffield Township so they can cast their ballots early.
Within 24 hours of an e-mail notice of the buses, 500 students had signed up, said Scott Wargo, college spokesman.
The college is paying for the buses, although the cost was not available Tuesday.
Ohio’s early absentee voting gets underway on September 30th, 35 days before Election Day, and the presidential candidates are trying to bank votes early. These college students finally had an unfiltered opportunity to hear a McCain surrogate speak, and if they listen to the Presidential candidate debate tonight, they’ll be able to contrast the two candidates as words come “straight from the horse’s mouth,” but what about the other races on the ballot? State and local elections are important, too. Will these Oberlin College students have an opportunity to learn about the nether regions of their ballots?
There are opportunities that lie ahead that would allow these students to learn about lower-profile races. Consider the candidate forum to be sponsored by the Coalition of Hispanic Issues and Progress (CHIP) in nearby Lorain, that the college students could see on a cable channel carried throughout Lorain County. The Morning Journal reports that this forum won’t be held until October 15.
The free event, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., will include State Rep. Matt Lundy, D-Elyria, and his opponent Republican Dan Urban; Lorain County Commissioner and Democrat Lori Kokoski and her opponent, Republican Martin O’Donnell; Lorain County Commissioner and Democrat Ted Kalo and his opponent Republican Nick Brusky; and U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, D-13, and her opponent Republican David Potter.
Granted, the state rep and Congressional candidates listed on the program aren’t the ones that will appear on the Oberlin ballot. For state rep, incumbent Democrat Joe Koziura is running unopposed, and Republican Bradley Leavitt is challenging incumbent Democrat Marcy Kaptur for a seat in Congress. The county commissioner races, though, are VERY consequential. I hope the Oberlin College students study up on the commissioner races before going to the polls, but I don’t think that’s likely if they’re among the 500 that signed up to ride buses for early voting just next week. Besides the CHIP candidate forum, Lorain County Community College usually hosts a candidate forum in even-numbered years, and Oberlin’s League of Women’s Voters usually hosts a candidate forum every year–but those forums are usually scheduled just a matter of days before election day, so they’ll likely occur LATER in the election cycle, NOT earlier.
I’m a former resident of Oberlin. In fact, in 2004, when Senator John Kerry challenged incumbent George W. Bush for the U. S. Presidency, I was on the ballot as Joe Koziura’s opponent in the state rep race. I remember going to vote on election day, in a precinct that included a lot of Oberlin College students. The turnout was enormous. I waited for two-and-a-half hours in line to cast my vote. I can understand why the students would want to vote early. Waiting that long in line could cause someone to miss some important activities on one’s schedule, even if one doesn’t have class on that day. The students were quite sociable, so they conversed with me and others around them as we all waited. They had turned out in huge numbers to support John Kerry, but many of them had come to study at Oberlin College from distant parts of the country. They frankly admitted that they knew nothing about the local candidates, so they voted a straight Democrat ticket, something that the Democrat machine in Lorain used to their advantage to sweep county offices.
Among the most egregious picks of the voters was the election of Ted Kalo as county commissioner. He’s been one of Lorain’s good old boys for years, among the privileged that pull the strings of Democrat officeholders in the decaying rust-belt city of Lorain, who was probably the most clueless of all the commissioner candidates that year (8 Democrats and 2 Republicans ran for county commissioner in 2004). After winning office, he promptly redecorated the commissioner’s office he worked in with new flooring, furniture, and even a plasma-screen TV! Lorain County is not so financially well off that it can afford splendor. Kalo has trouble balancing his books as a businessman (at one point, grossly delinquent on remitting sales taxes from his business, more recently filing bankruptcy for his business), so when the county’s revenues weren’t keeping up with expenditures, he led the commissioners in voting to increase the county’s sales tax. Unlike Barack Obama, who says he’ll only increase taxes on the rich, a hike in the county’s sales tax affects everyone, old and young, rich and poor, with no exceptions, not even for college students purchasing textbooks. Some voters took measures into their own hands and filed petitions to put the proposed sales tax hike on the Lorain County ballot in fall of 2007. When the votes were counted last November, the rough totals showed that 80% of county residents opposed the sales tax hike.
And here’s the reason why the county commissioner races are so consequential: Commissioners comprise the legislative branch of the county. They are to impose the people’s will on county government. They have power of the purse. However, incumbents Ted Kalo and Lori Kokoski have said that if elected, they will again attempt to hike the sales tax, despite the demonstrated will of the people. Both incumbents hail from Lorain, a city headed toward, if not already in, economic ruin. These two don’t understand the economy, and they evidently don’t understand their responsibility to represent the people. Challengers Nick Brusky and Martin O’Donnell have both served on city councils in cities that have been two of the three bright spots in the Lorain County economy (much of the county is economically distressed). They have an understanding of the economy. They have a track record showing that they know how to prioritize when resources are scarce. They have pledged to not hike the county sales tax. They understand that a commissioner is supposed to represent the people of the county, and act according to the people’s will. Electing Brusky and O’Donnell as county commissioners will help put the county on better footing, so I hope these college students are aware of this when they vote.
Of course, readers of this blog are seeing the commissioners’ races through my filter, my lens, my prism, my perspective, as they peruse this message. But there are opportunities to see the candidates unfiltered, and I hope that voters avail themselves of those opportunities before rushing off to vote in a hurry.