I attended the Candidates’ Night on April 10 co-sponsored by community organizations that included the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Congress. The six Democratic candidates running for the County Executive position were invited to participate, and five of the candidates came eagerly to tackle the issues that affect everyone in one way or another in Cuyahoga County. The event was held at the Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry Richard Sering Center.
The panel included; State Senator Shirley Smith, high school principal Thomas O’Grady, former sheriff Bob Reid, Democratic operative Tim Russo, and neighborhood activist Walter Allen Rogers Jr. Len Calabrese who recently retired from the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland did a wonderful job as the moderator.
Each of the co-sponsors submitted 2 to 3 questions that are relevant to their particular agency. The questions included issues of health care, mental health, and human services, all very critical issues that the candidates will face if elected.
As the evening progressed, forty minutes into the questioning came the question that NEOCH submitted. I, of course, was anxious to hear the responses to the question that Brian Davis of NEOCH submitted for the homeless community and, by default, everyone that exercise their right to vote. The elimination of Golden Week (an in-depth explanation of the Golden Week can be found in earlier articles in the blog section of this site) has ruffle feathers in many venues. The one question of the two that was selected to be answered by the candidates was:
The Secretary of State has recently changed the hours so that a county of 1 million potential voters has to have the exact same hours to process our voters as Van Wert County with only 25,000 potential voters. Do you believe that this is a threat to our home rule and what are you prepared to do as County Executive to prevent long lines and meet the needs of Cuyahoga County voters who want to vote on the weekend as well as be able to register and vote at the same time?
For the first time that evening, I could tell that the candidates were on the same page about this issue, the long and short of it is—it stinks. It turned out to be a debate with the governor, whom I might add, was not there. The words and phrases to describe the elimination of Golden Week went as follow; assault on home rule, direct contradiction of what our Founding Fathers envisioned, disenfranchise any vote is a terrible mistake, violation, Soviet Union, dictators rigging elections, etc. Who would have ever thought that our election process could be summed up in this manner, but it is good to know that all the candidates have solutions that could bring the voting system back to the post-1776 era.
There were questions about Re-Entry issues, hunger and Medicaid expansion, and wage issues. These many health and human services groups and labor organizations were concerned about the future of the County in the face of government cuts and hostility toward Cuyahoga County down in Columbus.
by Norman Wolfe
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