Kathy Antoniotti

SPRINGFIELD TWP.: A 19-year-old political science major has dropped his aspirations of becoming Ohio’s next governor to focus on what he considers a more obtainable goal: winning a trustee seat in his hometown.

Kyle Henline, a sophomore at Kent State University, officially dropped out of the gubernatorial race he started in November 2011 and has taken out petitions with the Summit County Board of Elections to run for a trustee seat.

Two of three trustee positions, held by Bruce Killian and Deborah Davis, will be on the ballot in November.

“As far as the governor’s race, I wanted to send a message that no matter what your background is — I’m a middle-class person right out of high school without funds — [anyone] can run for office. That’s the beauty of our country,” Henline said in a recent interview.

Having raised only $20 in contributions for the gubernatorial race that he used primarily for printing and parking tolls, Henline said his biggest roadblock was the Ohio Democratic Party, which didn’t take his bid seriously.

“They weren’t really keen on my running and they kind of pretended I didn’t exist. I emailed and called and got nothing back from them,” he said.

This time around, Henline said, he will use social media to his advantage to solicit campaign contributions and promote enthusiasm for his candidacy in the community of 15,600 residents.

“I’m going to take a new tactic like the grass-roots movement made popular by President Obama,” he said.

Henline said he has always had an activist’s idealism and founded a nonprofit advocacy group with the ambitious name Junior Activists of the World Society, when he was a sophomore at Springfield High School. The group’s aim was to educate students regarding environmental issues and human and animal rights through affiliations with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Greenpeace and Amnesty International.

He considers himself a social liberal and appreciates the need to fund some social services.

“But I don’t like taxing,” he said.

One of the things that concerns Henline is the number of Internet cafe locations in the township. He said they lower people’s opinion of the community he has lived in since he was 6 years old. He believes trustees should take a page from some Stark County communities that are considering charging the gambling establishments a flat fee.

“Maybe $4,000 per cafe and a $100 fee per machine each year,” he suggested. “That could weed out some of them that aren’t doing well and get some funding for other programs.”

He expects to knock on a lot of doors in the next few months and has a walking list prepared.

“I will have a YouTube ad campaign to target younger people and try to get them to vote. But, my biggest challenge will be getting to the older public,” he reasoned.

The filing deadline for the nonpartisan trustee’s race is Aug. 7.

Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or kantoniotti@thebeaconjournal.com.