By Fletcher Word
The Truth Editor
So often, during normal times, African-American commentators decry the tendency of African Americans to demonstrate such unwavering allegiance to one party when they go to the polls. Such allegiance, goes the theory, too often means that that one party, when in office, takes such votes for granted and then fails to properly reimburse voters for such loyalty.
That argument certainly possesses a certain logic, during normal times, but these aren’t normal times and I’m not quite sure if we have ever witnessed normal times when it comes to politics.
What is happening in the United States, in general, and in the state of Ohio, in particular, during these times is pretty obvious. The Republican Party has put together a super majority in Columbus and they have such a troubling agenda for these times.
They want to eliminate women’s reproductive rights, they are going to defund public schools to enrich the purses of wealthy owners of private and charter schools, they wish to hold onto power by making it as difficult as possible for the underserved to vote and, driven by some enigmatic fear of the thought of critical race theory being taught to first graders, they want to forbid references to this nation’s history of racism in the classroom.
Apparently, Republicans don’t want little white kids to feel bad about the way their nation has mistreated and abused little Black kids over the centuries.
It is critically important in this race for the statehouse to vote for Toledo area Democratic candidates: Nancy Larson in District 41; Erika White in District 42; Michelle Grim in District 43 and Elgin Rogers in District 44. All four will be newcomers to Columbus and all four will stand in strong opposition to the Republican lawmakers who believe that gun rights are absolute but limited government somehow means limiting voting rights and limiting the rights to one’s control over her own body.
Larson is facing Republican Josh Williams, a somewhat thoughtful conservative who unfortunately believes in curtailing abortion rights and arming teachers in schools as a precaution against mass shootings since guns are here to stay.
White is facing incumbent Derek Merrin, an author of the six-week abortion ban legislation.
Grim is facing MAGA warrior Wendi Hendricks and Rogers’ opponent is Roy Palmer whose campaign slogan appears to be “why can’t we all just get along?”
Electing these four local Dems to the General Assembly will not change the balance of power immediately but perhaps will serve as notice that the Republicans will not reign forever in Ohio. Regardless of the impact in the legislature, however long that might take, there can be, with this election, an immediate impact on the Ohio Supreme Court.
Currently the court has four Republicans and three Democrats on the bench. However, three of the Republican seats are in play. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican, is retiring and Associate Justice Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat is vying for that position. Democrats Terri Jamison, an appellate court judge in the 10st District Court, and Marilyn Zayas, an appellate court judge in the 1st District Court, are trying to claim the seats of sitting justices Pat Fischer and Pat DeWine, respectively.
With Jamison and Zayas, there is an opportunity to overcome the Republican majority on the bench, a majority that tends to reflect the legislator’s views on redistricting, abortion rights, employment rights, LGBTQ rights.
But the backgrounds of both Jamison and Zayas and what they have had to overcome to earn an education, become lawyers and end up on appellate courts are inspirational and a reflection of the trials of so many people of color.
Jamison, an African American from the coal mine areas of West Virginia, became a lawyer late in life as did Zayas, of Puerto Rican heritage and from a difficult childhood in the Washington Heights area of New York City. Both Democrats have undergone life experiences that make them well suited to keep Republican excesses in check on the judicial side.
It’s time to start to make a change in Columbus. Reproductive rights, public school funding, voters’ rights, am honest presentation of history in our classrooms, employment rights, LGBTQ rights and, perhaps above all, a scandal-free state government (the First Energy nuclear plant scandal still hovers) are all at stake. Vote as if your life, and the lives of millions of Ohioans, depends upon it.