The campaign is almost over, and not a day too soon. Another week, and the country might succumb to a collective breakdown, or at least an epidemic of TV screens with blunt instruments hurled through them after too many political ads.
This assumes that we’ll know by Wednesday who the next president will be. The alternative of indefinite uncertainty — especially if it’s centered here in Ohio, as provisional ballots get counted — is too dismal to contemplate.
But however nasty and divisive the campaign has been, you still can’t escape your civic duty to vote the whole long ballot on Tuesday, if you haven’t already done so (remember, you can vote early in person today and Monday). The stakes are clear, as are most of the choices.
Despite the near-obsessive attention lavished on the down-to-the-wire presidential contest, especially in Battleground Ohio, the race here for the U.S. Senate is also close and nearly as important, both to the state and nationally. Whether Ohioans rehire incumbent Sherrod Brown or take the chance of replacing him with challenger Josh Mandel could determine which party will control the Senate for the next two years.
The local elections for the U.S. House, in the redrawn 5th and 9th districts, aren’t likely to be nearly as competitive as the presidential and Senate races. But they feature well-known incumbents — Bob Latta and Marcy Kaptur, respectively — and intriguing challengers — Angela Zimmann and Samuel (Joe the Plumber) Wurzelbacher — and are worth your attention.
Two ballot questions give Ohioans the opportunity to reclaim our state’s political process from professional politicians and the special interests they work for. Approval of Issue 1 would authorize a convention of citizens to examine needed updates and changes to the state constitution.
Issue 2 would take the task of drawing Ohio’s maps for U.S. House and General Assembly districts out of the hands of self-serving politicians and assign it to a nonpartisan panel of citizens. That would enable voters to pick their elected officials, rather than the other way around. Both proposals merit your support.
Overcome the urge to stop at Issue 2, despite its endless wording on the ballot, courtesy of the Ohio Ballot Board. Vote yes on 2 and then move on: Plenty of vital local issues and other contests also require you to make crucial choices.
Voters in Toledo and the rest of Lucas County face a raft of requests for property tax increases and renewals. The temptation will be strong among many voters to reject all of them without even examining them individually, but please resist it.
If you truly can’t afford an increase in your tax bill, that’s one thing. Otherwise, is it worth saving a couple of bucks a week if that means a family afflicted by child abuse or mental illness or drug or alcohol addiction won’t get the timely, expert, potentially life-saving help it needs? What if it were your family?
If you don’t have children in public school, does that mean that what happens in Toledo Public Schools, or any of the other local districts that are seeking levies, is irrelevant to you? Think again: The quality of public schools is among the key considerations for job-creating employers when they decide whether to locate and expand here.
Would you prefer to see your neighborhood branch of the public library, or Imagination Station, close rather than invest a modest amount to help keep them open? Do you want to see public parks in Toledo, or the Metroparks, become less safe, less clean, less well maintained? It’s your call.
Voters in Sylvania and Spencer townships can, and should, reject the unjustified dismantling of the Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority that their counterparts in Perrysburg started this year. This area needs an effective public transportation system to remain economically competitive, and to enable our neighbors who don’t or can’t drive to get to the doctor’s office, the grocery store, or the workplace. Communities trying to go it alone just won’t work.
Don’t forget the contested elections for the Ohio Supreme Court and General Assembly. The activities of both the legislative and judicial branches of state government affect Ohioans’ lives every day.
And however distasteful the task may seem, vote for Lucas County offices — and resolve to support the kind of county government reform that would make these elections competitive and meaningful.
If you live in Michigan, you’ve got important contests for the U.S. Senate and state Supreme Court, just as Ohioans do. You’ve also got a half-dozen statewide ballot proposals.
Above all, a no vote by Michiganians on Proposal 6 will advance the prospects of a badly needed new bridge between Detroit and Canada. No single project is more critical to the economic development of this region. An octogenarian billionaire shouldn’t be permitted to block such progress merely to preserve his personal bridge monopoly.
The same tycoon is bankrolling the equally noxious Proposal 5, which would require a super-majority of the Legislature or a statewide vote to approve any tax increase. That would hamper Michigan’s ability to respond to a fiscal crisis; vote no on this turkey too.
The Blade’s summary of its recommendations appears on the adjacent page, and will run again on Election Day. But as usual, the only endorsements that count are the ones you make on your ballot. As long as you’re voting, you might as well do the whole job.
So make sure you vote — and earn your right to complain about the results.
David Kushma is editor of The Blade.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org