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The Movement Brings State Democratic Candidates to Toledo to Fire up GOTV Effort

By Fletcher Word

Sojourner’s Truth Editor

The Movement was on the move this past Sunday at Hydromatic Park as upwards of 200 of the faithful turned out to hear statewide Democratic Party candidates preach their message of the all important impact of the vote in this non-presidential election year. That message from each of the candidates was loud and clear – change is possible if the faithful vote and if they bring along others with them to the polls.


Sunday’s event was organized by Tina Butts, the Democratic Party’s Northwest Ohio Minority Coordinator, along with help from her vast network of friends, most particularly attorney Rick Mitchell and State Rep. Michael Ashford.


The event opened with a welcome from Valarie Robinson and an invocation by Bishop Randall Parker. Then came the speakers – local notables: Ashford; Mitchell; Robin Reese, executive director of Lucas County Children Services; Judge Myron Duhart; David Fleetwood, business manager of Laborers Local 500; Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken. The statewide speakers were Betty Sutton, candidate for lieutenant governor; Zack Space, candidate for Auditor; Rob Richardson, candidate for Treasurer and Judge Melody Stewart, who is running for justice on the state Supreme Court.


“We got to make this happen, in a big way,” said Butts of her group’s goal of getting out the vote in numbers that will approach the turnout of a presidential election year. “We’re going to be committed to doing some work.”


“This is a critical lection,” said Reese during her opening remarks as she urged the crowd not to take anything for granted about the possible turnout.


“Ohio is the epicenter for the heroin and opioid crisis,” she said. “Ohio is the leading state for infant mortality.” Reese told the crowd that Ohio is the 50th state in the nation for its contributions to child protection. “If you double it, we would still be the 50th state.” Children Services depends on ballot levy initiatives for funds to operate.


“If we don’t vote, we die,” said Gerken who spoke to the fact that urban areas have been gerrymandered to a position of lesser importance during Republican rule of the last eight years. “Our votes are being taken away from us.”


Then came Space, who noted that he is running for Auditor because “our democracy is not working anymore” and for three reasons, he said. First, the money in the system influences policy matters disproportionately; second, the way Republicans have carved the state up “we are disenfranchised;” third, “people aren’t voting.”


Ashford spoke next and put on a bravura performance about the loss of influence on important issues when voting falls off during non-presidential elections. Ashford asked 10 people who voted in both President Obama victory years to join him up front and as he ticked off the loses on issues important to most Democrats – college tuition, Obamacare, public education lack of funding, public safety, jobs/jobs/jobs. As he ticked of each loss, he had someone of the 10 sit until there were only three left – demonstrating the lack of voter influence since the Obama victories.


The day’s keynote speaker was Sutton. “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re on the menu,” she said of the problem of being out of political power. “We have to send a message to America about who we are and who we stand up for,” she said. “Everything is on the ballot, we have to do every single thing we can; we all have to do our part.


“The civil rights of this generation is economic development,” said Lucas County Court Judge Duhart as he began making the case for know how to vote for judges down the ticket. “Make sure you go all the way down the ticket.”


Duhart also urged the audience members to take more time out of their schedules to inform themselves about the choices for judge. “Before you go to vote, do your homework.”


If Stewart prevails in her race for Supreme Court Justice, she will be the very first African-American woman to serve on that bench. “I’m running for two reasons,” she told the crowd. “I’m running to help bring some balance to the Court – we do need some reform.”


Currently all the justices of the Ohio Supreme Court are Republican but Stewart noted that if she wins, there are things even a sole Democrat can place on the record to start the process of re-establishing balance. “Our voices are in the room,” she said.


Stewart made a point of the reforms necessary to the criminal justice system and the high rate of incarceration and the long period of incarceration that plague communities currently.


“The majority of our brothers and sisters are going to get out of incarceration,” she said, and it is important that they have the ability to re-adjust to society or re-criminalization is inevitable.


The second reason Stewart said she is running is to “to bring a high level of public service to the Court’; I’m not doing this for me, I’m doing this for us.”


Fleetwood lit up the crowd even more with his impassioned plea to vote. “We ought to be sick and tire of being sick and tired,” he said of the process that has left Democrats out in the cold for so long in Ohio. He noted a big difference this year in the quality of Democratic candidates, however. “We’ve got the candidates but they can’t get over the finish line if we don’t vote; we have to do a little more than what we normally do. Voting is like fighting for your own breath.”


There are things a treasurer can do to have an impact on the quality of life for the state’s residents and Richardson, the last speaker, emphasized that once he is elected he plans to take on the cause for-profit prisons and for-profit charter schools, neither of which performs any beneficial service for Ohio citizens he said.


“I’m going to work every day to hold the powers that be accountable,” said Richardson. “We need people who are going to fight for us but I can’t do it without your vote. We are going to have to save ourselves; we are going to have to work harder than we ever have before.”





Copyright © 2018 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/16/18 14:12:12 -0700.

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