COMMENTARY

Pols have had their say — now it’s your turn

The only endorsements that count are the ones you make on your ballot

11/4/2012
BY DAVID KUSHMA
BLADE EDITOR

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: dkushma@the­blade.com