Ohio2006 Blog

News, analysis, and comments on Ohio elections.

Wednesday, April 12

Ohio House 9th: Rogers (D) and Boyd (D) Face Off

Last Thursday I attended a meeting of the Cleveland Heights Democratic Club, where Ohio House 9th District candidates Julian Rogers (D-Cleveland Heights) and former State Rep. Barbara Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) addressed the gathering. Each began with a five minute opening statement, followed by 35 minutes of questions and a brief closing.

Rogers, who worked closely with Cleveland School District CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett for seven years and has been endorsed by the Cleveland Plain Dealer, said he decided to run because he is tired of the corruption and lack of leadership in state government, and proceeded to lay out statistical measures depicting the sorry condition of education, employment and health care in Ohio. He then spelled out five critical areas where new leadership is needed: (1) by going door-to-door in the district, Rogers has learned that people don't know their representative or what she does, showing that better outreach through the internet and public meetings is needed; (2) in education, fixing school funding should be our top priority, we need college scholarships in order to get college graduates needed to boost the economy, and we need universal pre-school and more vocational training; (3) we are "losing control of our democracy" due to the influence of money, with government largesse being bought and sold for campaign contributions, showing the need for public financing of campaigns; (4) there are one million uninsured Ohioans, showing the need for universal health care; and (5) we need to use renewable energy, and Ohio stands to gain jobs if it become a leader in this field because it is mandated by national policy.

Boyd, who has been endorsed by the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, used her opening to introduce various members of her family who were present, then stated that "what Julian said is correct" but as a former child educator Boyd thinks we need to look at child health care (90,000 Ohio children are not insured). Boyd pointed out that the 9th District is a microcosm of the nation, with an extremely poor area (East Cleveland) and a prosperous area (Cleveland Heights and University Heights). She identified economic development as an issue, meaning companies wiling to employ residents, which requires development of a talent pool through higher education. Boyd proposes a program to forgive a percentage of student loans if a graduate stays in Ohio, especially for teachers and health care providers. Boyd is concerned about social services and school safety.

During the Q and A period the candidates discussed the need to de-stigmatize and increase vocational training for students who don't want to go on to college, agreed that welfare reform needs fixing, declined to endorse the universal health care plan recently adopted by Massachusetts, and lamented the economic effects of urban sprawl and the plight of East Cleveland.

What really separated the candidates in my mind, however, was their response to a question by City Council member Bonnie Caplan (D-Cleveland Heights): even if we get a Democratic Governor, we won't have a Democratic legislature, so how can we make changes? Rogers responded that we need "party discipline and strong leadership, to make compelling proposals that bring the public around." He talked about how he and some others formed Blue 88 to get Democrats from all counties engaged. Boyd said that we need to "form coalitions because so much of the state is rural," and talked about her experience getting concessions from Republicans during the implementation of welfare reform (during her previous service in the General Assembly). This seemed to be the essence of Boyd's campaign pitch. She believes that by focussing on "commonalities," by touring other counties with other Representatives, and by not going into negotiations "with an attitude," that she can cajole the Republicans in control of the legislature to compromise and pass bipartisan legislation. She stresses that the legislature was more bipartisan six years ago when she was last there, and that she knows and can work with Republicans like State Sen. Lynn Wachtmann (who is term-limited and running for a House seat) and State Rep. Louis Blessing (R-Cincinnati).

As readers of this blog already know, I think that Rogers' approach is right and Boyd's is flat-out wrong. Whatever the state of affairs when Boyd last served, the Republican House leadership now rejects compromise and bipartisanship. What the Democrats need to do is to strengthen the party and to speak clearly and directly on the issues, articulating exactly what is wrong with the way the Republicans have mis-governed this state and what is right about the Democrats' alternative proposals. Only by swinging public opinion away from the Republicans' positions can the House leadership ever be compelled to do the right thing. For example, the Republican's recent move to raise the minimum wage to at least the federal level came about only because Democrats and labor forced the issue by working toward a minimum wage ballot issue.

In their concluding remarks, Boyd again emphasized her experience and leadership and "ability to work with the other side." Rogers emphasized the need for new leadership, new vision, and new ideas to take Ohio into the future.

1 Comments:

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Jill said...

This is fascinating, Jeff, because while in CT, a lot of what I heard and read about was Gov. Jodi Rell's ability to work with the Democratic legislature there. Her approval rating is something like 81%, and has been high since she took office (of course, coming in after John Rowland, a now-convicted and in prison felon, didn't hurt, but still...).

Anyway, much of what I heard was about the successes she's had in the state because of collaborating and working with the state legislature.

Ohio is different in that we've been entrenched with a monolithic state gov't for so long now, and CT has always been a hybrid place. Also - I don't read what you've said Rogers says as saying no collaboration, he just is promoting strong leadership.

Looks like both candidates have some things to offer and it might be a tough choice, no? (I know you're going to say no. :)

 

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