by By Tom Calarco,
Clermont County Democrats met in Loveland on Saturday, June 11, to kick off the state senate campaign of Charlie Carlier of Goshen. They were of one mind in their goal to elect Clermont County Democrats to the Ohio legislature, something that hasn’t happened in decades.
In addition to Carlier, Jerod Weber, the county candidate for state representative spoke, as well as Senator Joe Schiavoni, Ohio State Minority Leader, who came all the way from Boardman, Ohio to attend, and Ray Lembke, Clermont County Democratic Chair.
Lembke issued a call to remind voters of the rich heritage of the Democratic Party that has been responsible for such civic-minded legislation as Social Security, Medicare, Minimum Wage, the GI Bill, the Civil Rights Act, and Disability Rights, among others. It was related to a common theme expressed at the meeting that the large Republican majority in the state legislature has neglected the needs and ignored the problems of state residents.
One of those problems is the epidemic of heroin abuse, which in Clermont County is one of the worst in the nation. Carlier, who serves on a county taskforce studying how to deal with the problem, is making it one of his primary campaign issues and blasted the incumbent, Senator Joe Uecker, for ignoring it.
“Over the past decade opiate addiction has grown exponentially across the country,” Carlier said “It has destroyed thousands of lives across southern Ohio.”
Republicans have not merely ignored it, Schiavoni said, but have actually cut funding to help opiate addicts.
Also discussed were cuts that have been made to Education and public services like Planned Parenthood, all in the name of fiscal conservation. Some of this money has been put into Governor Kasich’s Budget Stabilization Fund, better known as the Rainy Day Savings Account. However, it was the opinion of most of those present that services necessary to Ohio residents are not being provided as a result, and that some of this money should be released to serve the state’s needs.
Both Carlier and Weber charged that their opponents, Uecker and Representative John Becker, are doing little for the residents of Clermont County, wasting their time on useless or detrimental legislation. One example mentioned was a bill recently sponsored by Uecker to require the burial or cremation of aborted fetuses when he should paying attention to the victims of heroin.
The meeting illustrated the strong contrast between the views of the Democratic and Republican parties, one that aims to serve the needs of the people first, and the other which gives priority to business interests. But as one attendee said, there is little evidence that Republican policies are improving the economy of the state.
In fact, job growth in Ohio currently is currently among the lowest in the nation, and while overall there has been job growth during the Kasich administration, it has been aided by an almost equal rate of job growth nationwide. Furthermore, the majority of jobs that have increased are of the lower paying variety, while higher paying jobs have decreased. This is reflected in the decline of government jobs which are at its lowest figure in 30 years.
The challenge for the Democrats in Clermont County, Carlier said, is to change the mindset of the people who habitually vote Republican and show them that they are not voting in their best interests. As one attendee related, nearly four times as many County residents are registered as Republicans, but on the plus side for Democrats, more than half of eligible voters in the County are non-partisan, neither Republican nor Democrat.
This gives hope to Carlier and Weber, but their task is formidable. Both have a strong interest in debating their opponents, something they urge county residents to support, so that they can get a clearer picture of the issues and problems that are confronting Ohio and Clermont County in the years ahead.
The party also is interested in forming a club in Loveland. Those interested should call 518-573-7163.