This is our summary (or recap) of endorsements for the Nov. 8 General Election. It includes endorsements on local issues, state legislative races (House and Senate) and Congress. This election cycle, none of the county officials on the ballot is being contested, which is a problem in itself.
AT THIS POINT, WITH THE general election staring us in the face, everything that can be said has been said with regard to the presidential race pitting Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump.
But we’ll say it one more time.
We believe that Clinton – despite all her well-reported flaws – is far and away better suited for the presidency than Trump. In her time as First Lady, U.S. senator and secretary of state, Clinton has shown again and again that she can lead with confidence and levelheadedness. During this eternal presidential campaign, especially during the incredibly high-pressure debates against Donald Trump, she proved she has the grit to be president. (Her poll numbers improved after every face-to-face skirmish with Trump.)
We also agree with her on the vast majority of domestic and international issues. Furthermore, we are confident that any Supreme Court appointments Clinton makes will lead to a moderate Supreme Court, rather than tilt the high court even further to the right, as will happen with Trump’s appointments.
Trump, meanwhile, has confirmed time and again that he lacks the temperament, judgment, management skills, attention span, and basic knowledge of government or foreign policy to serve as president. During this campaign, he has repeatedly confirmed that he’s impulsive, reckless, dishonest and unpredictable. Time and again, he has displayed attitudes that are racist, aggressively sexist, and offensive to a variety of cultures and interest groups. He has admitted that he “likes” to commit what amounts to sexual assault, and nearly a dozen women have accused him of the same.
He has a malicious, bullying nature, and appeals to people’s worst instincts. He’s a serial liar, as independent fact-checking sites (as well as simple observation) repeatedly have confirmed.
Vote for a better person and a better future. Vote for Hillary Clinton for president.
WE ARE RECOMMENDING THE election of Democrat Sarah Grace to replace Debbie Phillips as state representative for the 94th House District. Grace is well versed in important local, state and regional issues, and seems likely to maintain the pragmatic, constituent-first approach that Phillips provided during her four terms in office.
Plus, the last thing the General Assembly – or Ohio – needs is further erosion of the legislature’s already fragile Democratic House delegation, with the accompanying loss of moderate and progressive voices to counter the conservative Republican domination at every level of state government.
While Grace’s opponent, Republican Jay Edwards of Nelsonville, has waged a mainly positive campaign trumpeting the need for bipartisanship in the Statehouse, his party leaders in Columbus have been polluting the district with blatantly misleading and inflammatory campaign ads and fliers. This isn’t necessarily happening at the direction of Edwards, but it is worth pointing out to voters that they should take this garbage with a very large grain of salt.
Vote for Sarah Grace. We need to keep a progressive, moderate voice in the Statehouse, someone who understands the issues of importance to people here in southeast Ohio, as well as how to go about addressing them.
OHIO’S 20TH SENATE DISTRICT, which includes Athens County, has a capable, hard-working, committed incumbent who deserves re-election. Serving as the district’s senator since his appointment to fill the vacated seat in 2011, Steubenville Democrat Lou Gentile reflects the people and culture of the Ohio Valley.
Challenging Gentile in this race is Republican newcomer Frank Hoagland, whose main argument for unseating Gentile seems to be his status as a former Navy SEAL and owner of a small business. Otherwise, Hoagland has been paper-thin on the issues of importance in this race. Notably, he also has ignored requests from media and good-government groups in Athens County for campaign interviews or participation in candidate forums.
Hoagland surely can’t expect to win support in a county that he has shunned throughout the campaign.
Hoagland and the Statehouse Republicans backing him have tried to tie Gentile to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s supposed antipathy to fossil fuels, but that’s a non-starter in this race. Gentile is supported by the United Mineworkers, and also has supported the oil-and-gas industry, as well as communities where it’s operating, in Eastern Ohio.
Meanwhile, Sen. Gentile has been willing to work with residents and officials of Athens County who seek more public input when potentially hazardous fracking waste-injection wells are proposed.
More broadly, the senator has been a strong advocate for maintaining and enhancing local and state government revenues, to help senior citizens and veterans, pay for needed infrastructure, and better support local schools and institutions of higher education in the 20th Senate District.
He has tied quality local services and schools to success in attracting businesses to communities.
For these and a lot of other reasons, we enthusiastically support the re-election of Lou Gentile to the 20th District Ohio Senate seat.
WE SUPPORT THE 0.20 PERCENT income-tax increase that Athens voters will consider in the Nov. 8 general election (Issue 1 on city ballots). The city has grown significantly since the last general-purpose income tax hike in 1986, as has the Ohio University campus.
This means city services – especially fire, police and code enforcement – have been badly stretched. At the same time, the city’s older streets and other infrastructure have been deteriorating with time.
The income-tax hike – on both city residents and non-residents who work in the city – would increase city revenues by $1.4 million per year.
Over the years, Athens residents have shown time after time that they appreciate city government efforts to improve this community, both with essentials and aesthetics. This income-tax increase will provide the money to allow those efforts to continue.
We feel that Mayor Steve Patterson and his department heads have laid out a persuasive case for passing Issue 1. The city has grown, and now needs more revenue to responsibly handle that growth. Vote yes on the Issue 1 income tax.
THE ATHENS NEWS SUPPORTS former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland’s election as U.S. senator for Ohio. Also a former congressman, Strickland offers a forward-looking approach to solving the many complex and persistent problems facing Ohioans and the nation.
His opponent, incumbent U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, supports the obstructionist, conservative Republican congressional agenda, as well as GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. Those positions conflict in a lot of ways, with Trump sharply deviating from the establishment right agenda on trade and foreign policy, among other issues. Yet both as an establishment GOP senator and a Trump supporter, Portman can be relied upon to support a federal government that cares more about the 1 percent than the rest of us.
On most national issues of importance, we favor Strickland’s approach over Portman’s. This includes climate change, veterans issues, education, taxation, health care, entitlements, immigration and foreign policy, among many others.
We urge our readers to vote for Ted Strickland for U.S. Senator for Ohio.
WE SUPPORT DEMOCRAT SCOTT WHARTON in his race to unseat Republican Congressman Steve Stivers in Ohio’s 15th District.
Wharton, a commercial pilot who lives in Fairfield County, offers sensible positions on the issues of importance to residents of the 15th District, the state of Ohio, and the nation at large.
Rep. Stivers of Upper Arlington, considered “safe” in his bizarrely gerrymandered district, has been singularly non-responsive to his constituents in far-away Athens County. We doubt he could find Athens without a map or GPS.
On nearly all of the issues, Stivers votes with the Republican congressional caucus, meaning that since being elected in 2010, he has supported the GOP leadership’s persistent effort to stymie President Barack Obama’s agenda. These tactical decisions are not based on the merits of the issues but rather on the GOP’s considered judgment that undermining the president is more important than actually accomplishing anything for constituents or their country.
Refreshingly, Scott Wharton offers a rational approach to addressing our nation’s intractable economic problems. He proposes tax and budget reforms that concentrate on helping working people, while allowing for more investment in infrastructure, energy and education.
Wharton has well-thought-out positions on these and other issues, and comes off as a moderate Democrat who values the prospect of bipartisanship.
Strike a chord for good government, and make a statement against legislative paralysis in Washington, D.C. Vote Scott Wharton for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District.
THE ATHENS NEWS STRONGLY ENDORSES Issue 22 on the Nov. 8 ballot, which continues an operating-expenses levy for Athens City Schools that’s been in effect since 2004.
This 6.73-mill levy will maintain an existing tax that provides revenues for essential items such as utility bills, staff salaries and benefits, insurance, building budgets, materials, bus fuel and other operating expenses. Comprising 12 percent of the school district’s general fund budget, the levy plays a key role in the district’s financial stability.
Without it, the district would face severe cost-cutting in order to compensate for the lost revenue.
We think the Athens City Schools perform an admirable job of educating our young people, and if creating a more predictable funding source – one that will not raise anyone’s taxes – will make that job easier, we support it.
Vote yes on Issue 22, the substitute tax levy for Athens City Schools.
WE URGE OUR READERS living in the Alexander Local School District to support the income tax levy appearing on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Alexander (which covers much of western and southwestern Athens County) has not passed an operating levy for additional funds in 25 years.
The 1.5 percent levy would affect earned income and NOT income sources such as Social Security and disability, dividends and interest, capital gains, pensions, workers comp, etc.
With state funding not increasing in the past eight years, school officials say the school district faces very large deficits if it doesn’t obtain more revenue to offset those projected shortfalls.
Alexander Local Schools do a good job of educating the district’s young people, and does so without a lot of money. It would be a shame to penalize those efforts by forcing draconian budget cuts.
Voters in the district can prevent that from happening. Vote yes on the Alexander Local School District’s earned income tax levy.
THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION can’t do any better than the election of Debbie Phillips of Albany to the District 8 seat that represents Athens County and a string of counties stretching from Meigs County north to Youngstown.
Phillips, a longtime advocate for educational and school-funding reform, is ending her tenure in the Ohio House of Representatives as a result of term limits. It would be a shame if her hard work on behalf of education, both before and during her four terms in the Ohio House, were to end.
While all five candidates bring experience and an assortment of good ideas to the table, we believe Phillips sits at the head of the class. Vote for Debbie Phillips for the Ohio Board of Education’s District 8.
THE ATHENS NEWS RECOMMENDS a “yes” vote on Issue 26, the replacement levy for the Athens City-County Health Department.
This 10-year levy replaces one that expires in 2017, and will provide around $291,000 annually for general operation and maintenance of the Health Department. This represents a $41,000 annual increase from the last 10-year levy.
In the Health Department, the general funds support a wide range of essential programs and activities that aren’t funded by grants, fees, etc., along with some that require matching local funds in order to leverage outside money. These are all programs and activities that make Athens County a safer and healthier place to live.
Athens County Issue 26 deserves your support. Vote yes.
THE ATHENS NEWS URGES our readers to vote YES on Issue 25, a renewal of the Senior Services Levy for Athens County.
It’s a worthy investment for our county’s elder residents, and will be used to support various agencies and organizations throughout the county that provide services to seniors, and in some cases allow seniors to serve others.