The following is a recap of the recommendations made by the Beacon Journal editorial board for Tuesday’s general election.
President: Hillary Clinton.
U.S. Senate: Rob Portman.
Ohio Supreme Court justice: Pat Fischer and Cynthia Rice.
Ohio 9th District Court of Appeals: Thomas A. Teodosio.
Ohio Senate: Vernon Sykes in the 28th District.
Ohio House: Emilia Sykes in the 34th District.
Greta Johnson in the 35th District.
Anthony DeVitis in the 36th District.
Kristina Daley Roegner in the 37th District.
Judith Lynn Lee in the 38th District.
Summit County executive: Ilene L. Shapiro.
Summit prosecutor: Sherri Bevan Walsh.
Summit fiscal officer: Kristen M. Scalise.
Summit clerk of courts: Sandra Kurt.
Summit County Council: Elizabeth M. Walters and Clair E. Dickinson for at-large seats.
Ron Koehler in District 1.
John Schmidt in District 2.
Gloria J. Rodgers in District 3.
Jeff Wilhite in District 4.
David Hamilton in District 5.
Jerry E. Feeman in District 6.
Paula Prentice in District 8.
Summit County Common Pleas Court judge: Scot A. Stevenson and Todd McKenney.
Summit Domestic Relations judge: Ron Cable.
City of Fairlawn: No on Issues 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17.
the Beacon Journal editorial board
Voters in Fairlawn face a full plate of complicated ballot issues, including two proposed ordinances and three proposed charter amendments. The ordinances would tighten further already updated regulations on rental housing approved by the City Council last year. The charter changes would fundamentally alter the way the city is governed by imposing term limits on the mayor and members of the City Council and changing the law director from an appointed to an elected position. All are ill-advised.
Backed by the Fairlawn Neighborhood Homeowners Association, the ordinances on rental properties (Issues 13 and 14) would result in mandatory annual inspections, an approach rejected by the City Council last year. The ordinances were intended for last year’s ballot, but didn’t make it due to late filing. Two other issues, aimed at repealing what the council passed on rental housing, did make it to the ballot last fall, but were defeated. Now the homeowners association is back, seeking to enact ordinances that would establish a framework for and impose mandatory inspections.
Mayor Bill Roth and his administration, including the law director, rightly oppose Issues 13 and 14 because they would push the city into a dangerous legal position by violating constitutional protections against warrantless searches. As matters stand, inspections can be triggered when a tenant complains or if the city believes there are code violations, an adequate remedy and one that balances the city’s interests in protecting neighborhoods with the rights of property owners. Such decisions are best left to the city administration and elected representatives, not a narrow citizens group.
In the wake of the battle over rental housing, a freshman member of the City Council, Joe Simonetti, backed by the homeowners association, gathered signatures to place the three charter issues on the ballot after other members of the council rejected them.
Simonetti’s charter changes on term limits, Issues 15 and 16, would limit the mayor and members of the council to three four-year terms, not including their current time in office. Once again, that would be overkill. A majority of the current council members have served five or fewer years, indicating a healthy turnover that brings in new blood but preserves institutional memory.
While Fairlawn is not a large city, it sometimes faces difficult issues. Having experienced members is an asset. It is also important not to limit artificially the will of voters who wish to re-elect incumbents. Fairlawn voters can look to the Statehouse to see the damaging effects of term limits on the legislature, where members serve eight consecutive years.
Issue 17, making the law director an elected position, would needlessly inject a political agenda into an office that should be far removed from such pressure. Issue 17 appears to be little more than an effort to retaliate against the former law director, Ed Riegler, for his rejection of mandatory inspections of rental housing.
To see a summary of the Beacon Journal recommendations for the Nov. 8 election, go to https://ohio.com/editorial/endorsements.
the Beacon Journal editorial board
During the primary season, this editorial page recommended that Democratic voters choose P.G. Sittenfeld as the party nominee for the U.S. Senate. At age 31, the Cincinnati city council member barely qualified to run, yet he brought an informed and energetic voice to the race. His engagement proved a sharp contrast with Ted Strickland, the former governor seeming disengaged and stale.
Unfortunately, that impression has persisted in this general election campaign. We say this reluctantly. This page has defended the Strickland record as governor. He deserves better for steering the state during the deep recession, for devising a promising school-funding formula, for launching an effort to bring more coherence to the higher education system, for achieving energy efficiency and renewable energy standards.
We share many views with Strickland. Yet this election involves more than selecting someone to cast votes. It goes to the quality of the legislator and the broader contribution he will make. On those counts, we recommend the re-election of Rob Portman on Nov. 8.
In seeking a second term, Portman has run a smart tactical race. He has taken the lead in the congressional response to the heroin epidemic, a stance that appeals across party lines. He has highlighted the enforcement of trade agreements and won surprising union support, driven, in part, by his work to protect pensions.
All of this, and his working across the aisle on such things as energy efficiency, point to the potential of the prepared, diligent and thoughtful Portman to play an expanded leadership role in the Senate. Come next year, the debate over the future of the Republican Party will move into a new and no less intense chapter. The party and the country would be well served if Portman is there pressing the case for a party more interested in actual governing.
Achieving such leadership still requires a leap on the part of the senator. He has disappointed. He signed a careless letter to Iranian leaders in a bid to undermine the nuclear agreement. He was not in the bipartisan majority that approved an immigration reform bill. He knows better than to pander to coal interests, as he has in this campaign. He has joined those blocking the highly qualified Merrick Garland from a hearing as a nominee for the Supreme Court.
Portman has protected his right flank. That has been most evident in his maneuvering around the Donald Trump candidacy, finally withdrawing his support in the wake of recent revelations about the real estate tycoon and Reality TV star mistreating women. The senator and allies have distorted the Strickland record through an avalanche television ads. If Strickland has muffed the response, unable to match his opponent in campaign money, the half-truths and cheap shots reflect poorly on Portman.
Why, then, support his candidacy? Ohioans can count on the senator to know the issues and the arguments, to tap his experience in Washington, including as budget director and trade representative. He understands how Washington works, a trait too little displayed by Republicans.
The senator has risen to the occasion in the past. He embraced gay marriage when his son shared that he is gay. Again, at some point, Republicans must defined what kind of party they are. Better to have Rob Portman on the scene, firmly in the conservative camp yet aware of how to move the country forward, through the required give and take and eventual compromise, both sides even having to swallow hard.
the Beacon Journal editorial board
This election year began with the expectation that Russ Pry would win easily another four-year term as the Summit County executive. The popular and effective Pry guided the county through stressful budget times following the deep recession and spending reductions at the state level. He expanded the county’s role in economic development, orchestrated sound consolidations of departments and launched initiatives to address worker training and early child development. He also repaired relations with the County Council.
Then, during the summer, the awful news: Pry died suddenly at age 58 from complications involving colon cancer. Ilene Shapiro, the council president, succeeded Pry, and now the Democrat is seeking a full term as executive.
We recommend the election of Ilene Shapiro on Nov. 8.
Shapiro arrived in the office well prepared, having worked closely with Pry during her decade on the council. She gave thought last year, and received encouragement, about running for Akron mayor. She has leadership experience in the public and private sectors, engaged, for instance, as the county made those difficult budget choices. She understands the potential and the stakes in the Conexus program, the joining of educators, manufacturers and other employers to improve the availability of skilled workers.
In these and other ways, including her relationships with city officials and business leaders, Shapiro represents sound continuity, grounded in what Pry was seeking to accomplish and committed to advancing in the same direction. More, she appears determined to see county government take fuller advantage of its charter form of government, examining ways to make the whole work better to address problems. It makes sense, for instance, to look at combining the engineer’s office with environmental services, especially in responding more productively to chronic flooding after heavy rains.
Shapiro has in mind an examination of whether a public defender’s office for felony cases would serve justice and save money.
Finally, she has a proven commitment to diversity, as might be expected from the first woman to serve as executive. She knows that diversity translates into tapping a greater measure of talent available in the community.
The Republican in the race is Bill Roemer, a former Ameritech executive and former County Council member at large. He has his own set of skills. He would do well in the executive’s office. He knows the financial terrain and presses the case for vigilance in controlling spending. He stresses public safety as a priority, with ideas about how to reopen a now-closed wing of the county jail. He also emphasizes the need for job growth and addressing flooding from storm water.
The difference in this race goes back to the idea of continuity. Pry put the county on an improving track, and Shapiro sees more clearly the way forward. In addition, she has a spark of ambition for the county. She shows a greater willingness to push boundaries in exploring how the charter can benefit further the county, looking to deliver something that lends Akron and its surroundings the distinctiveness necessary to grow smartly and enhance the quality of life.
the Beacon Journal editorial board
Sherri Bevan Walsh talks about her sustained enthusiasm for the job of Summit County prosecutor, a position she has held for the past 16 years. Now the Democrat is seeking a fifth, four-year term. This editorial page has had its differences with the prosecutor, yet in this race, she again is the stronger candidate.
We recommend the re-election of Sherri Bevan Walsh on Nov. 8.
During her tenure, Walsh has heightened the profile of the office. That is evident in programs such as safety lessons for seniors and self-defense classes for women, now available at the University of Akron, too. All of this helps to promote Walsh the politician. Yet, as this page has noted in the past, the benefits flowing to the community are real.
One defining improvement under Walsh has come in child-support enforcement, the office collecting an additional $40 million in payments. The challenge, and where the office has gotten better, is finding an effective balance between applying pressure through prosecution and knowing that payments are more likely when the delinquent parent has a paycheck.
The prosecutor’s office is the most powerful in local government, with much discretion and the power to disrupt lives. Walsh has advanced as a manager, the administrative work crucial in a county of this size. She defends the heavy pursuit of the death penalty in recent years, citing cases with multiple victims.
Yet in all but two instances, the jury trials ended with life sentences, often without the option of parole. That reflects a trend and brings into focus the substantial cost of capital punishment cases.
In 2015, the prosecutor did not seek the death penalty in a single case.
Restraint also deserves a place in pursuing those who sell heroin to customers who then die from an overdose. Dealers frequently deserve harsh treatment. The circumstances also can be complicated, sellers feeding their own drug addictions and without a motive to kill.
To her credit, Walsh has talked in this campaign about looking more closely at a public defender office for felony cases. That is a worthy project, the move having the potential to achieve savings and improve representation.
John Chapman, her Republican opponent, defends the current system of private attorneys receiving appointments, of which he is a part. The former prosecutor in Cuyahoga Falls and Munroe Falls argues that Walsh uses too heavy of a hand in child-support enforcement. He pledges to spend more time as a working prosecutor, something that may not fit with the management part of the job.
Chapman is smart and informed. He doesn’t make a persuasive argument for denying Sherri Bevan Walsh another term.
the Beacon Journal editorial board
Justice Judith Lanzinger will step down from the Ohio Supreme Court, where for the past 12 years she has been one of its most able members. It is fitting, thus, that the contest to fill her seat features two impressive candidates, Judge Pat Fischer of the First District Ohio Court of Appeals in Cincinnati and Judge John O’Donnell of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. Either would serve well as a justice.
Voters must make a choice, and in Fischer they will find a sharp legal thinker who brings a broader range of experiences and achievements. He deserves the edge.
We recommend the election of Pat Fischer on Nov. 8.
Fischer joined the appeals court six years ago. There, he has practiced a true brand of judicial restraint, seeking to apply the law as intended and holding carefully to precedent. He explains that he writes opinions with the losing litigant in mind, seeking, and often succeeding, in tone and approach to show that justice prevailed.
The defining aspect of his legal career has been his successful private practice, which covered more than 30 years. Fischer handled cases small and large, simple and complex, involving clients and courtrooms across the country.
In Hamilton County, he has served on the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board and, statewide, he is a member of the Constitutional Modernization Commission. Fischer represents what many seek in a judge, bringing what he has learned in private practice and in the community, adding quality to the bench.
John O’Donnell may be best known for his deft handling of the difficult trial involving a Cleveland police officer facing involuntary manslaughter charges. O’Donnell took care in managing the raw emotions. He also showed the thoroughness, independence and even bravery required in a good judge.
O’Donnell argues that his experience at the common pleas level is missing on the high court. He is right, and he has won high marks generally for his work, especially with the commercial litigation docket. The judge ran unsuccessfully for the Supreme Court two years ago. Now he faces an opponent who has a stronger case for becoming a justice.
Justice Paul Pfeifer also is stepping down from the Supreme Court, resulting in the departure of another distinguished member. The two candidates vying to succeed him are Judge Cynthia Rice of the 11th District Ohio Court of Appeals in Warren and Judge Pat DeWine of the First District Ohio Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
On the appeals court for the past 14 years, Rice has performed most capably, sound in her temperament, analyses and writing. She arrived at the court after a decade as a prosecutor, first in the Trumbull County prosecutor’s office and then as an assistant U.S. attorney in Youngstown. She thus had a head start in the criminal area and currently is a co-chair of the criminal law and procedure committee of the Ohio Judicial Conference.
Yet she proved a quick study in civil cases. Her elevation to the high court would represent a logical and welcome progression.
We recommend the election of Cynthia Rice on Nov. 8.
Pat DeWine, the son of Mike DeWine, the state attorney general, points to a broad range of experience, having served as a Cincinnati City Council member, Hamilton County commissioner and common pleas judge. Add his experience practicing law, handling appellate matters and complex civil litigation, including mass tort bankruptcies. As Justice Pfeifer knows well, time as an elected official can offer a helpful perspective on the court.
Notable in this race is the relatively short time DeWine has spent on the appeals bench, the past four years, after four at the common pleas court, or not a full term. Cynthia Rice is the more seasoned and prepared to make the jump to the Supreme Court.
the Beacon Journal editorial board
Joy Oldfield won election to a judgeship on the Akron Municipal Court five years ago. Now, before her term ends, she is asking voters to approve a promotion to the Summit County common pleas bench. She wants to finish the unexpired term of Tom Parker, who moved to the federal court to serve as a magistrate.
Oldfield has many influential supporters, including the Akron mayor and county executive. The judge and her backers highlight the good work she has performed at the municipal court, for instance, updating the recovery court, helping to develop plans for a new court building and reshaping the appointment of attorneys in felony cases. She is smart, ambitious, engaged in her job and the community.
The judge also talks about lessons learned, or moving past the incident, shortly after she joined the bench, that resulted in the Ohio Supreme Court issuing a public reprimand. The court found her in violation of judicial and professional conduct rules. No need here to rehash the details, except to say that the judge still does not grasp the full measure of her misconduct, including, via her attorney, the quick condemnation of Copley Township police officers.
As the chief justice asked in arguing the punishment of the high court was not tough enough: Who had the greater incentive to lie?
One incident should not define a career. Judge Oldfield appears determined to make amends, but it is too early to elevate her to the common pleas court.
Scot Stevenson won the appointment of the governor to fill the vacancy, joining the court in June. He points to his previous experience as a magistrate in the Barberton Municipal Court and the Cuyahoga Falls mayor’s court, along with his work in private practice since the early 1990s, with the emphasis more recently on probate cases. Stevenson faces a learning curve. He also is the better candidate in this race.
We recommend the election of Scot Stevenson on Nov. 8.
Two years ago, Todd McKenney won election to fill an unexpired term on the Summit County common pleas bench. Now he is seeking a full, six-year term. He has performed well in the position, drawing on a range of experience and benefiting from an earnest approach.
We recommend the re-election of Todd McKenney on Nov. 8.
Among the experiences that McKenney taps is his pastoral service at The Chapel for a dozen years. It informs his solid temperament, alert, particularly, to the stakes for those defendants before him. He speaks thoughtfully about the challenge often in setting the appropriate sentence.
McKenney benefits, too, from his time (albeit short) on the Barberton municipal bench and in the state legislature. The range of perspectives makes him a more effective judge. He has earned a full term on the court.
His opponent is Alison Breaux, a magistrate handling small claims matters in the Akron Municipal Court the past four years. Before joining the court, she practiced in the area of civil defense, from appeals in personal injury cases to employment litigation. More recently, she had moved to criminal defense work. So, she, too, has a range of experience.
Breaux shows much promise running in her first campaign for office. Yet, in this race, she is not the stronger candidate.
the Beacon Journal editorial board
Judge Thomas Teodosio receives favorable notices for his work on the Summit County Common Pleas Court the past nine years. He is engaged, thoughtful and respectful. He argues persuasively that seeking a seat on the 9th District Ohio Court of Appeals amounts to a natural progression.
We recommend the election of Thomas Teodosio on Nov. 8.
Teodosio would add something in short supply on the appeals bench, a judge with such experience at the common pleas level, a valuable dimension in reviewing cases. He would arrive prepared in other ways. For 25 years, he handled a wide range of cases in private practice. He also served on the County Council for six years, further broadening his perspective.
Part of what has distinguished his effort on the common pleas court is the attention and care he has given to running the drug court. More, he has pursued a welcome thoroughness, taking a measured approach to plea arrangements, for instance, to ensure defendants understand the stakes.
If anything, he has seemed the right fit for common pleas, his effective way with people not as much in demand at the appeals level. Still, he is the stronger candidate in this race.
His opponent is Diana Stevenson, the Barberton clerk of courts for the past five years. She has performed well there, and as a magistrate for 12 years in the Summit County probate court. She would bring additional knowledge and experience from her time in the civil division of the county prosecutor’s office. Stevenson is bright and capable. She is not as prepared as Teodosio.
The 9th District appeals court covers Summit, Lorain, Medina and Wayne counties.
Katarina Cook, an Akron Municipal Court judge, and Ron Cable, the chief magistrate for the Summit County domestic relations court, are vying for a judgeship on the domestic relations bench. Cable has spent the past dozen years as a magistrate for the court. His strong record there gives him the clear edge.
We recommend the election of Ron Cable on Nov. 8.
Cable has been part of the evolution of the court, the offering of more services and programs to help couples and their children navigate a most difficult time in their lives. He has been involved, for instance, in putting together a program for high conflict parents and a program for dog therapy, a real golden-doodle on hand to provide comfort for children.
Such innovative thinking has been indicative of his tenure at the court, reflecting sound lessons learned about resolving clashes and otherwise helping the distressed see their way to better decisions about moving ahead.
Ron Cable has earned the opportunity to sit as the judge.
Katarina Cook brings her own strengths, having spent the past seven years on the municipal court, currently running the specialty court for drunken drivers. She has been a guardian at litem for abused and neglected children and trained as a mediator in domestic relations. She wants the court to deliver more timely decisions, a fair criticism in some instances. What she does not have is Rob Cable’s proven performance as a magistrate in the court.
the Beacon Journal editorial board
Besides filling district seats on the Summit County Council, voters will elect candidates to two of the three at-large seats, an unexpected development. The position once held by Ilene Shapiro, now county executive, is occupied by an appointed incumbent, Clair Dickinson, who is running for the two remaining years of Shapiro’s term. The second at-large seat was held by Sandra Kurt, now Summit County clerk of courts. The appointed incumbent is Elizabeth Walters, who also has decided to run. All are Democrats.
Republicans, meanwhile, selected Alex Pavloff to run against Dickinson and Chris Parker to run against Walters.
We recommend the election of Clair Dickinson and Elizabeth Walters on Nov. 8.
What sets Dickinson apart is his experience and grasp of how county government functions. The former appeals court judge served two stints on the County Council, totaling almost eight years. He has been widely involved in legal and community organizations. Dickinson’s broad knowledge and proven good judgment are valuable additions to the council.
Dickinson provides a steady voice for continuing charter reform, cooperation among local governments and taking a regional approach. He supports, for example, an appointed county engineer and taking a countywide approach to storm water management, with the executive and County Council in the lead.
Pavloff, a graduate student at the University of Akron in applied politics, has been active in the local party. He founded and chairs the Summit County Young Republicans. In his first race, Pavloff is enthusiastic and a quick study, focusing on how to fight the heroin epidemic. He suggests opening the closed wing of the Summit County Jail as a detox and rehabilitation facility. He does not offer the seasoned leadership of Dickinson.
Elizabeth Walters had planned to run for the Ohio Senate, but withdrew after her appointment to the County Council.
Although she has not run for office before, Walters brings a range of practical political experience. Now community outreach coordinator for the International Institute of Akron, she was executive director of the Ohio Democratic Party, deputy field director of the campaign that repealed Senate Bill 5 and district director for former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, among other similar activities.
Walters would look for ways to continue to make Summit County an attractive place for immigrants and work collaboratively on problems such as the heroin epidemic. Although in office just since February, she has proposed that the county offer six weeks of paid leave to new parents, making the county a leader in the state in offering the benefit to both mothers and fathers.
Parker is an attorney who has sought appointment to judicial vacancies and served for seven years as an assistant prosecutor in Hudson. He, too, embraces governmental collaboration. Parker also sees the need for another Republican on the council to provide a check against “overprogressive” aspirations by the Democratic-dominated council. He would do well as a council member. Yet in this race, Walters has the edge in preparation and experience.
the Beacon Journal editorial board
This editorial page has disagreed sharply with Kristina Roegner during her six years in the Ohio House. That includes her support of the heartbeat bill, deep reductions in income tax rates and a freeze on standards for renewable energy and energy efficiency. These and other differences remain. Yet the Hudson Republican delivered for the 37th District and the rest of the state when she pushed her party hard to bring much-improved oversight and accountability to the dismal charter school industry.
With that in mind, we recommend the re-election of Kristina Roegner on Nov. 8.
When the Republican majorities may have wanted to buckle, Roegner proved a steady, credible and decisive voice in support. She pressed for as strong of a measure as possible, for instance, gaining, after much struggle, language that requires for-profit management firms to provide greater detail about their spending.
Roegner knows that additional work remains on this front. She intends to propose legislation that would return funds misused by charter schools directly back to public school districts. All of this reflects something of the education of a legislator. Roegner readily acknowledges the need to focus on leading priorities at the Statehouse, matters that advance the state as a whole. So it is with the scandal in charter schools. Her voice will be needed if her fellow Republicans start to backslide.
The Democrat in the race is Casey Weinstein, a candidate with much promise. A graduate of the Air Force Academy with a master’s degree in business administration from Ohio State, he is an executive with Gartner, a leading information technology research and advisory company. He works on the company’s business development with the Air Force.
At the Statehouse, he would focus on restoring local government funding, advancing clean energy and overseeing charter schools. A year ago, Weinstein won a seat on the Hudson City Council. Better to complete that term, gaining knowledge and experience, and then look to seek higher office.
The 37th District covers the northeast portion of Summit County, including Macedonia, Stow, Northfield, Twinsburg, Silver Lake and Reminderville.
Marilyn Slaby returned to the Ohio House in 2012, won re-election two years ago and now is seeking another term in the 38th District. She represents a more moderate presence in the Republican caucus. The retired educator brings a greater understanding of public schools. She puts priority on assistance for military veterans. She favors the House moving forward to repair the way congressional districts are redrawn.
Yet, harder to detect of late has been the depth of focus and commitment to making a difference. Thus, here is an opportunity to add to a depleted Democratic caucus, the minority gaining some leverage to yield compromise.
Judith Lynn Lee is the Democrat in the race. She is a photo journalist, most recently with The Reporter in Akron. She has been involved television and radio and engaged in community organizations, including the NAACP and the Federated Democratic Women of Summit County.
Lee emphasizes public education and clean energy, specifically the need to unfreeze the energy efficiency and renewable energy standards. She would be a strong advocate for women and health care. We recommend the election of Judith Lynn Lee on Nov. 8.
The district runs the length of the far western sides of Summit and Stark counties.
In the 28th Ohio Senate District, Tom Sawyer, a veteran Democrat whose presence at the Statehouse brings needed perspective and stability, is blocked from seeking re-election by term limits. Fortunately, another veteran legislator, Vernon Sykes, a fellow Democrat, has stepped forward. He is ready with the experience, temperament, institutional and policy knowledge to represent the district and help in governing the state more effectively.
We recommend the election of Vernon Sykes on Nov. 8.
Sykes, a political science professor at Kent State, has a long record of bipartisan accomplishments, most recently as co-chair of the campaign that last year passed state Issue 1, repairing the way state legislative districts are drawn. Sykes has been a leader in pushing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and supporting higher education. He has contributed to significant advances in the state’s fair housing and sunshine laws.
All that covers a career that started in 1983. Sykes served until 2000, when term limits hit. When his wife, Barbara, who took over the House seat, sought state office in 2006, Vernon Sykes ran again and has served until term-limited once again. His daughter, Emilia, ran successfully in 2014. The response to the grumbling about too many years of Vernon Sykes comes in the form of solid work.
In the Senate, Sykes can be expected to continue pressing the right priorities, from early childhood education to congressional redistricting and voting rights.
His opponent is Jonathan Schulz, a Republican seeking elected office for the first time. Schulz founded and runs a nonprofit that puts on events for families with special needs. He is refreshingly independent-minded, energetic and a quick study. He supports shifting money from charter schools to public schools. But his call for “a new generation of leadership” does not match what Vernon Sykes has to offer.
The district covers Akron, Green, Barberton, Springfield Township, Coventry Township, Lakemore, Tallmadge and the Summit County part of Mogadore.
In the 36th Ohio House district, Anthony DeVitis is seeking a third, two-year term. The former member of the Green City Council is a small businessman. He continues to adhere to the misguided belief of Statehouse Republicans that income tax cuts and fewer regulations are key to accelerating job growth and raising income levels.
Still, DeVitis is a more moderate voice in a conservative caucus. He supports the Medicaid expansion, Common Core and reforms for charter schools, among other issues. He also has been responsive to constituent concerns, especially college costs. His bill to prohibit overload fees for college students carrying heavy course work was part of the state budget. In addition, he has introduced a bill to control textbook costs.
We recommend the re-election of Anthony DeVitis on Nov. 8.
His opponent is Bobby McDowall, a Democrat who serves on the Mogadore Village Council. McDowall, a paralegal, has been active in Democratic campaigns. He has a good grasp of the issues facing Ohio, accurately portraying, for example, how Republicans achieved their balanced state budget by shifting the fiscal burden to local governments. Still, his campaign to oust DeVitis is based on portraying him as an arch conservative, which doesn’t square with the totality of the incumbent’s record.
The district includes Green and Tallmadge, climbing north into part of Cuyahoga Falls.
the Beacon Journal editorial board
Hillary Clinton is the change. That assertion may seem far-fetched when so much reporting and commentary have portrayed the Democratic presidential nominee as the establishment candidate. Donald Trump, her Republican opponent, describes her so. Many young voters have little conception of the change she pushed and the many advances she helped to achieve in a public career that goes back to the 1970s.
Yet such change for the better in education and health care, for children and the disabled, are not what this editorial page has in mind in assessing her run for the presidency this year. She represents a break from the recent past.
Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama succeeded in capturing the White House because, in large part, they portrayed themselves as outsiders. The argument went that they would be less burdened by the polarized culture of Washington and thus better positioned to get things done.
What soon became evident is that wasn’t enough. If Obama ran into an iron wall of Republican resistance, he also did not do enough to build helpful relationships. Except in rare cases, Washington is all about checks and balances. Change comes incrementally, more so when the parties disagree sharply as they do today.
It helps that a president knows well how Washington works, that the dysfunction stems not so much from corrupting political money but from a failure to govern as the system is designed, requiring give and take, compromise.
It matters that a president understands the dynamics of policy and the bureaucracy and has developed ties to the other side. Remember the praise Republicans had for Clinton during her Senate years? No doubt, she would face fierce opposition, most of time. Yet her candidacy offers an opening for making progress — on such matters as immigration, mental health care and investment in public works. So let’s try something different, a president who arrives with established skills in the ways of the capital.
We recommend the election of Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8.
There is another element of Clinton the agent of change, and it indirectly reflects her quest to become the first woman elected president. The face of the country is changing, more diverse, minorities moving toward a majority. The idea isn’t to elect a woman because she is a woman. Rather in choosing a woman so prepared for the job, the range of opportunities expands for all those long on the outside.
The Clinton resume is well known, including first lady and key adviser to her husband, U.S. senator and secretary of state. The Trump campaign has attempted to portray her four years as the top diplomat as a failure. Actually, she proved a success in repairing the country’s image (damaged in the Bush years). If there were setbacks (the deaths and aftermath in Libya), the record features more achievements, for instance, arranging the sanctions that resulted in the nuclear agreement with Iran.
Clinton has proved plenty tough enough, all while alert to an increasingly integrated globe, aware of its layers and complexities and the value of American engagement and leadership. She knows how to build influence in the world as it is.
An election is a choice, and at home, Clinton also far exceeds her opponent in vision, knowledge and policy. Here, she is about change, if not the sweeping — and unrealistic — variety. Take trade. If her evolution has been convenient, a closer examination suggests a way forward, both opening markets and meeting the needs of those harmed in the global marketplace.
She recognizes that addressing income inequality requires a collection of approaches, from paid family leave to easing the burden of college costs to altering a tax code that favors the wealthy. All of her policies are not fully formed. What they reflect is something this page has noted in the past, that what matters in a presidency is its general tilt, evident in Clinton when she talks about such things as race and justice, the threat of climate change and who should sit on the Supreme Court.
This is a flawed candidacy. She struggles as a campaigner. She must get better as a communicator, less the impression of packaged and better in dealing with the question of trust, even if the criticism is overblown. The “scandals” of the past have yielded little. The email fuss lacks context. She erred, obviously. She also operated in a government far too eager to classify documents. Nothing has surfaced to suggest pay-to-play at the Clinton Foundation.
The focus belongs on the breadth of her record and what Hillary Clinton would bring to the presidency, her appreciation of what it takes to govern and her grasp of how to do so. She is resilient, tested and calm. She knows her way around the partisan battles. The country doesn’t need a revolution. It isn’t a wreck. It requires the right brand of change.
the Beacon Journal editorial board
Much of this presidential campaign has played in the moment, each news cycle seemingly driven by a unique event. A day or two later, it can be hard to remember what had tongues wagging. Yet, in assessing the dangerous candidacy of Donald Trump, it is essential, especially in this swing state of Ohio, to weigh the accumulation, all the outrages, lies and revelations that have gathered since he jumped into the race.
They form the portrait of a Republican nominee unfit to serve as president. This editorial page has examined many candidacies at all levels over the years. None is quite like Trump in its disqualifying traits, from his ill-suited temperament to his aggressive lack of knowledge and preparation.
With so much at stake, the debates approaching and Election Day just six weeks away, it is important to discuss how his candidacy falls severely short.
Start at the beginning of his political rise, when he noisily took the lead in the “birther” movement, making the outlandish claim that President Obama may not have been born in this country. That cannot be dismissed as easily as Trump aimed to do last week, not when he waged a five-year campaign, seeking to portray the first black president as somehow illegitimate or undeserving.
This was racially tinged, and it has echoed elsewhere in his candidacy, spreading divisiveness, whether in sweeping comments about Muslims or denigrating a federal judge because of his “Mexican heritage.”
Many politicians exaggerate, fudge the truth, even tell whoppers. Few do so in such a serial and brazen fashion, as the independent fact-checkers have confirmed. Recall Trump seeking to link Ted Cruz’s father to the assassination of John Kennedy. Or insisting that he opposed the war in Iraq and the Libyan intervention when the record clearly shows otherwise. Or that he watched “thousands” of Muslims cheer when the World Trade Center collapsed.
This unrestrained neglect of the truth surfaces in the myth about the businessman. If Trump has made big money, he also has left a trail of wreckage, most notably, exploiting bankruptcies and stiffing contractors, often small businesses. No wonder Michael Bloomberg declared: “Trump says he wants to run the nation like he’s run his business. God help us!”
Trump University carries the stench of fraud. The Washington Post has exposed the shady doings of the Trump Foundation, its violation of campaign finance law, phantom donations and self-dealing, using, for instance, foundation money to settle lawsuits involving for-profit businesses of Trump.
The candidate easily could address questions about his finances by releasing his tax returns (as other presidential candidates have going back to 1980) and detailing his extensive business relationships. This lack of transparency, or disdain for voters, alone disqualifies him from the presidency.
Yet even more disturbing are the repeated indications of how little Trump knows about conducting the presidency and the complex terrain he would have to navigate. Take just one emblematic moment, his claim, often made, that in Iraq, the smart move would have been to “take the oil.” Imagine the backlash, in the expense of lives and dollars, carrying out the mission, or the reaction in Iraq and the rest of the Arab world, all of it confirming the darkest suspicions about American intent.
Add that in repeating this view Trump shows an intellectual laziness, confirmed by how little he has done to get up to speed in policymaking, or what a president does. If he has proved rash, demagogic, self-aggrandizing and thin-skinned, he also celebrates the value of being unpredictable. What happened to the Republican priority of “certainty”?
Trump has appeared the dupe of Vladimir Putin and an unwitting recruiter for the Islamic State.
All of this helps explain why 50 former national security officials in Republican administrations stated that Trump “would be the most reckless president in American history.” The Wall Street Journal reports that no living member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Democratic or Republican, supports Trump.
Many in Akron, Ohio and across the country have been battered by a changing economy and feel they have been pushed aside by the political class. They have a case, and many see Donald Trump sending a powerful message. He does talk tough. He boasts and blusters. He is a skilled pitchman who has built a global brand. Yet begin to look closely and fully, and his candidacy unravels, revealing a man unworthy of the office he seeks.
Emilia Sykes easily could have gone through the motions at the Statehouse, banking on the Sykes name to keep her seat in the legislature. Instead, in her first term in the Ohio House, she has built on the record of her parents, who both have served there. The Akron Democrat has brought energy, drive and smarts to the work, representing well the 34th District, which covers six city wards and parts of Bath Township and Cuyahoga Falls.
We recommend the re-election of Emilia Sykes on Nov. 8.
When the Republican majorities moved to prohibit cities from setting requirements for local hiring in public works projects, Sykes took a leading role in opposition, defending the flexibility cities need to address problems. Ultimately, she and allies did not prevail. What they did was elevate the debate, or what the minority should seek.
Sykes has proved a quick study in getting things done, finding ways to work with Republicans. She secured funding from the state for 11 Akron residents to earn commercial drivers licenses. She engaged locally and with the Department of Medicaid to help set in motion $3 million to combat the distressingly high rate of infant mortality in the city.
Gene Littlefield is the Republican in the race. He agrees with Sykes on several matters, including opposition to additional income tax cuts and reductions in funding to local governments. He stresses paying more attention to those at the lower income rungs. At the same time, district residents have benefited from the commitment and achievements of Emilia Sykes. She has earned a second term.
Greta Johnson has made an equally strong start in the Ohio House. The Akron Democrat is seeking a second two-year term representing the 35th District, which covers five city wards, Barberton and part of Springfield and Coventry townships.
We recommend the re-election of Greta Johnson on Nov. 8.
Johnson cut her highest profile in voicing opposition to increased student fees at the University of Akron. That moment reflected part of what has made her effective. She has built relationships in the community, connecting priorities here with the Statehouse. She rightly has called for a legislative or state task force to bring improved coordination and results to the heroin epidemic afflicting Summit County and other parts of Ohio.
Her campaign against the “pink tax” has brought welcome attention to matters of women’s health. Johnson has been an advocate for transparency at JobsOhio and investment in early childhood education. Democrats do not have much clout in the legislature. What they need are more lawmakers like Greta Johnson, informed and focused, able to work across the aisle and put the necessary pressure on the majorities.
Aimee Cooper is the Republican challenger in this race. She is a strong candidate in her own way, having grown up receiving welfare, gaining an education and building a career, now the director of marketing at LifeStages Advisory. She puts priority on addressing crime, the opiate problem and those who are struggling to make ends meet. Her candidacy falls short in making the case to remove a promising incumbent.
the Beacon Journal editorial board
Two strong candidates are running for a four-year term as Summit County clerk of courts, an exclusively administrative position but one that attracts attention because of the large number of patronage employees that can be hired, about 80 in all. The incumbent, appointed in January, is Sandra Kurt, a Democrat and former member of the County Council and Akron City Council chosen by her party to replace Dan Horrigan, now the Akron mayor.
Challenging Kurt is Ann Marie O’Brien, named this year as a judicial attorney in the Summit County Common Pleas Court. O’Brien, a Republican, is a past president of the Akron Bar Association and a veteran attorney of 25 years in private practice with a focus on complex medical and catastrophic injury litigation.
We recommend the election of Sandra Kurt on Nov. 8.
Kurt stresses her experience as a industrial engineer and in the corporate world (she once worked for Goodyear) as giving her the right background for managing the office. Since taking over as clerk, she indeed has run things smoothly, handling personnel changes and continuing the office’s transition to electronic filing.
More, Kurt has continued a culture of efficiency. She has not hired additional staff and kept the budget in line, once a complex shifting of money among county funds is factored into the equation.
O’Brien has not run for office before. She views her legal background and work at the bar association as giving her the right tools for the job. O’Brien certainly knows her way around the court system. She argues she grasps well the effect the office has on lawyers and judges, seeing it at the core of the county legal system.
Still, being an attorney is not a requirement for holding the office, and no clerk in Summit ever has been one. And although the office is essential to a smoothly functioning court system, its impact on the legal system, in terms of policy, is virtually nonexistent. In the end, the edge goes to Kurt for her management experience and the solid start she has made in the job.
Another elected administrative office on the ballot this year is the Summit County fiscal officer. The incumbent is Kristen Scalise, a Democrat appointed to the office in 2011 following the retirement of John Donofrio. She won a four-year term in 2012 and now is seeking a second full term.
Scalise has the right credentials and experience. She is a certified public accountant who served 11 years as Donofrio’s chief deputy. Once in charge of the office, Scalise has run it with a sharp eye, trimming employees and returning some $481,000 to the general fund during the past four years. More, she has brought improvements to how unclaimed funds are returned to citizens and run a special real estate assessment fund efficiently enough that she has returned $4.6 million to schools, libraries and local governments.
We recommend the re-election of Kristen Scalise on Nov. 8.
Her opponent, Jeff Iula, a Republican, declined an invitation to interview with the editorial board.
the Beacon Journal editorial board
In Summit County Council District 5, incumbent Tamela Lee’s re-election chances ground to a halt in March, when she lost a three-way Democratic primary to newcomer David Hamilton, a former prosecutor for the city of Akron. Lee already faced trouble, a pending trial on federal bribery charges. She is barred from contact with county employees and has not attended a council meeting since December.
Into the void leaped Hamilton, a vigorous campaigner who gathered endorsements and reached out to understand the concerns of the diverse district, which includes Fairlawn, Copley Township and parts of Akron and Bath Township. His experience as a prosecutor gives him valuable perspectives on issues affecting urban parts of the district.
The core of the district, in terms of population, covers Akron’s Wards 3 and 4. There, Hamilton sees the priorities as protecting vulnerable citizens from cuts in social services and developing plans for vacant property opened by housing demolition. He also has listened to suburban residents about consolidating 911 dispatching centers, correctly concluding that a regional approach would save money while maintaining the quality of services.
We recommend the election of David Hamilton on Nov. 8.
The Republican in the race, John Sans, a former candidate for the Akron City Council, is a research chemist for BASF in Independence. His leading priority is economic development. Sans criticizes the county for not being aggressive enough in attracting new businesses and young, well-educated residents. Yet his ideas, such as offering incentives to companies and developers, do not break new ground.
Sans would be a helpful addition to the council. What he lacks is Hamilton’s stronger grasp of the district.
In Summit County Council District 6, Jerry Feeman is seeking a third four-year term representing Tallmadge and southeast Akron. A former member of the Tallmadge City Council, Feeman knows his district and is responsive. He has been a leader, having served three years as the council president, gaining valuable perspective.
We recommend the re-election of Jerry Feeman on Nov. 8.
On budget matters, Feeman, a real estate agent and appraiser, has helped steer the county through difficult times. He remains a strong advocate of regional cooperation and streamlining county government, for example, by making the engineer an appointed office.
In terms of regionalism, he would work to bring all county and city of Akron employees under one health plan.
Feeman, a Democrat, faces challenger Cole Muzio, a Republican running for the first time. Muzio is the president of a firm specializing political and corporate strategies and public relations. Bright and energetic, Muzio urges better communication with constituents and ways to engage young families. Still, he does not make a persuasive enough case for removing an effective incumbent.
Paula Prentice is running for a fourth term in District 8, covering Green, Lakemore, Mogadore, Springfield Township and parts of Coventry Township and Akron. A retired educator, Prentice, a Democrat, long has paid close attention to maintaining strong social services. She now serves on the county’s opiate task force. She stresses the importance of reducing the infant mortality rate. We recommend the re-election of Paula Prentice on Nov. 8.
James Carr, the Republican challenger, did not respond to our invitation for an interview.
Voters in Summit County Council District 4 face a difficult choice. Both the appointed incumbent, Jeff Wilhite, a Democrat, and challenger Michael Kormushoff, a Republican, would bring valuable experience and represent ably the district, which includes portions of Akron, Bath Township and Cuyahoga Falls.
We recommend the election of Jeff Wilhite on Nov. 8.
What distinguishes Wilhite is his broader experience and knowledge. Now the executive director of a nonprofit, Family Promise of Summit County, Wilhite’s background includes service in Akron city government as deputy mayor for administration and deputy director of planning and urban development. He also has been an entrepreneur, leaving city hall for an alternative energy company.
Wilhite is anxious to spur business development, reaching out nationally and internationally, but also focusing on retaining and growing existing businesses. He views education and prevention as important to fighting the opiate addiction crisis.
Kormushoff, long an advertising, marketing and public relations executive in the Akron area, has an extensive record of community involvement. He has founded new companies and, for 31 years, run a basketball program for troubled youth. He hopes to use his background in the private sector to move the county forward, among other things, by encouraging new businesses.
Although Kormushoff would be a quick study, Wilhite has a broader grasp of public policy issues and how local government works. He has a proven record and has worked well with other government officials.
In Summit County Council District 3, Gloria Rodgers is seeking a third term representing Hudson, Stow, Silver Lake and part of Cuyahoga Falls. As the lone Republican on the council, Rodgers performs a valuable watchdog role. She has been a consistent voice for fiscal restraint and consolidation.
Her approach is even-handed and independent-minded. Rodgers listens and does her homework.
A nurse at Portage Path Mental Health, Rodgers has put that background to use on issues such as the operations of the county jail and spending at social service agencies. She rightly pushed agencies to provide regular fiscal reports, all following the same format. Rodgers serves on the countywide task force that is combating opiate addiction. There, she urges drug education programs and more beds for inpatient treatment.
We recommend the re-election of Gloria Rodgers on Nov. 8.
The Democratic challenger is David Worhatch, an attorney who was a township trustee in the former Hudson Township and a member of the Hudson City Council. He also has run for legislative and judicial positions.
Worhatch rightly emphasizes the unrealized potential of the county’s charter government. He, too, would be an independent voice. Absent are compelling reasons to oust a solid incumbent.
the Beacon Journal editorial board
Voters in Summit County Council District 1 are fortunate that both candidates seeking to represent them have experience in local government, a valuable asset when dealing with a dozen communities stretching across the northern tier of the county. The district, which also includes a small portion of Cuyahoga Falls, covers the most political subdivisions of any of the council’s eight districts.
The Democratic candidate, Rita Darrow, upset incumbent Nick Kostandaras in a primary in which he was seeking a fourth term. Darrow served a term on the Macedonia City Council, where she was council president for a year. She points toward the city’s progress on infrastructure development, job growth and fiscal stability. She would emphasize similar priorities on the County Council, along with an awareness and understanding of how to help those with drug and alcohol addictions.
Her opponent is Ron Koehler, a Republican who served one term as a Springfield Township trustee. Koehler, an attorney, also served two years as the director of the Summit County Board of Elections, bringing him into contact with communities across the county. He points to his legal experience as an asset. He places priority on the heroin problem and bringing resources to the northern part of the county. Koehler has been a Macedonia resident since 2012.
Both candidates would do a solid job representing the interests of the district. In this race, we give the edge to Koehler.
We recommend the election of Ron Koehler on Nov. 8.
Although Darrow would be an independent-minded voice, Koehler offers an opportunity to bring a greater measure of political balance to a council that includes just one Republican among its 11 members. Summit County tends to lean Democratic, no question. Its council should reflect more closely the partisan landscape. Koehler would bring a solid range of relevant knowledge and skills to bear on the job of representing District 1.
In Summit County Council District 2, incumbent John Schmidt is seeking his third full term in a race that turns on experience. Schmidt was first appointed to the District 2 seat in 2007, where he serves parts of Akron (East Akron, Goodyear Heights and North Hill), Munroe Falls and most of Cuyahoga Falls. He earlier served on the Falls City Council.
In all, the Falls Democrat has spent more than three decades in local government, including time on the county executive’s staff and as deputy director at the Board of Elections. He has a good grasp of the wide array of issues facing the county, from the budget to economic development and the heroin problem.
We recommend the re-election of John Schmidt on Nov. 8.
Schmidt faces Nick Subak, a Republican running for the first time. Subak, a grocery clerk with plans for a law degree at the University of Akron, is also a resident of Cuyahoga Falls. He seems more at home with city issues than larger concerns affecting the district or the county as a whole.
The following is a recap of recommendations made by the Beacon Journal editorial board for the Tuesday primary election. Readers will find races and issues on the ballot in which the editorial board did not make a recommendation.
Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary.
John R. Kasich in the Republican primary.
City of Akron
Yes on Issue 1, a charter change to develop an aggregation plan for purchasing natural gas.
Yes on Issue 2, a charter change to consolidate the city’s human resources operations.
P.G. Sittenfeld in the Democratic primary.
David P. Joyce in the 14th District Republican primary.
Michael Wager in the 14th District Democratic primary.
Matt Browarek in the 38th District Democratic primary
Summit County Council
Nick Kostandaras Sr. in the District 1 Democratic primary.
David Hamilton in the District 5 Democratic primary.
Nolan James in the District 7 Democratic primary.
the Beacon Journal editorial board
Hillary Clinton has been telling audiences as she campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination that she wants to make the country “whole.” Donald Trump wondered recently: What does that mean? Actually, the idea is simple, sound and needed.
The country faces sharp divisions. They are apparent whether the subject is race, politics, economics or culture. She sees a presidency devoted to easing the many divides, not in a sweeping way, but by governing, piece by piece, as the difficult political landscape requires.
Most important, that “whole” means addressing income inequality, and she has precise ideas for, among other things, altering the tax code, boosting manufacturing, regulating Wall Street, attacking racial injustice and expanding opportunity through education. Clinton has unmatched knowledge, experience and preparation in this campaign. The former senator from New York understands well how to navigate the rough passages of Washington, having spent time in the legislative and executive branches.
Watch the debates, and no participant from either party has displayed a stronger grasp of the range of issues. If she has familiar baggage and hardly rates as a natural campaigner, she is the complete candidate. We recommend the election of Hillary Clinton in the Ohio Democratic primary on March 15.
Part of the preparation involves her four years as secretary of state. Her record has flaws, just as President Obama didn’t always take her advice. Yet, in the main, Clinton exercised good judgment, whether about an Egypt in turmoil or in organizing sanctions against Iran. If she believes the military can be a tool to advance diplomacy, she clearly has learned lessons, too.
Bernie Sanders has struck a deep chord of dissatisfaction and frustration with such things as stagnant wages for the middle class and income gains flowing almost fully to those at the highest income rungs. The Vermont senator has added in a big way to the campaign.
His candidacy also has big problems, starting with his promises of free public college, a single payer health system (something Vermont could not pull off), projected annual growth exceeding 5 percent and proposed additional spending on a track to exceed $30 trillion for the next decade. These are unrealistic, and not because of a “corrupt campaign finance system” or the dark influence of Wall Street.
On many matters, parties and interests strongly disagree on the direction to take. What Sanders, more naturally the outsider or voice of protest, fails to appreciate enough is the complexity and hard work involved in crafting compromises, or the achievement of the Affordable Care Act and the financial regulation of Dodd-Frank. Follow his thinking, and they are the products of a corrupt system.
They are much better results than that. They reflect rare triumphs at the political center. If Republicans balked at engaging in the effort, Democrats wrestled with interests in the give and take. The center is where you are best positioned to make the country whole, through a trade policy, for instance, that understands the value of new markets overseas and the need for help amid wrenching change. It is where Hillary Clinton, liberal, progressive, Democrat, operates effectively, as a president must.