When an incumbent office- holder isn’t seeking re-election, voters must ask themselves this question as they decide on a successor: Which of the contenders is better prepared to govern from day one?
In the race for Ohio Secretary of State, we believe it’s Republican Jon Husted, a state senator from Kettering. Prior to being elected to the Senate in 2008, Husted served in the Ohio House from 2001. During that time, he was chosen speaker twice.
Although Republicans were in the majority, he reached across the aisle to forge bipartisan responses to the major challenges of the day. The 2008-09 biennium budget is an example of Republicans in the General Assembly working with a Democratic governor, Ted Strickland.
But it is Husted’s unwavering belief that partisan politics should be removed from the process of creating the state’s legislative districts that leads us to the conclusion about his readiness to serve as Ohio’s chief elections officer.
The secretary of state must be willing to take off the political blinders that have become so much a part of government at all levels. We believe the Republican nominee will continue striving for bipartisanship, the way he did in the legislature.
His opponent in the Nov. 2 general election is Democrat Maryellen O’Shaughnessy, the clerk of courts in Franklin County and a former three-term member of Columbus City Council.
In making the case for her candidacy, O’Shaughnessy points to her administrative experience — she says she manages a staff that’s larger than the secretary of state’s — and her record of using the latest in technology to make the operation of government more efficient.
The Democratic nominee also has a plan for the drawing of legislative districts, which is quite different from the one being pushed by Husted.
While this issue may be too esoteric for the voters, here’s why it’s important: Currently, state legislative district lines are drawn by a five-member apportionment board made up of the governor, auditor, secretary of state and a legislator from each party. As a result, partisan politics are very much part of the process. One party will always control two of the three statewide offices.
Husted insists that partisan politics should be removed from the process of drawing the lines, even though it’s possible that Republicans will control the board after the election.
O’Shaughnessy is also pushing the idea of fairness, and believes there needs to be more transparency in the process.
The new boundaries for the legislative districts and congressional districts — they are drawn the General Assembly — will be set next year and will be in effect for a decade.
It is unfortunate that the legislature was not able to reach a compromise this year so a new apportionment system could have been placed on the November statewide ballot.
Nonetheless, Husted hasn’t given up on trying to end the impasse.
In the meantime, we will hold him to his word that he will work in a bipartisan way to ensure the new legislative districts don’t result in one- party control of the General Assembly. He says that such control does not serve government well, and notes it results in the “tyranny of the majority.”
His call for the creation of a bipartisan commission to visit officials at boards of elections throughout the state in preparation for the 2012 presidential election is a good idea.
While it is clear that O’Shaughnessy is well versed with the issues confronting the secretary of state’s office, we believe Husted is better prepared to succeed Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat.