Showdown on Issue 2

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By Ashley Luthern


Issue 2 opponents

wanted Gov. John Kasich, who was speaking at the same time in Hanoverton, to hear their cries.

“We are Mahoning Valley proud and Mahoning Valley strong,” shouted hundreds of people Tuesday at the Mahoning Country Club.

Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras led the call-and-response effort, telling opponents of Issue 2 that they need volunteers and they need to get out the vote.

“Get skin in the game,” he said. “You take their carcass to the polls and make them vote.”

Betras, together with Dennis Johnson and Dan Polivka, Democratic party chairmen in Columbiana and Trumbull counties, respectively, organized the event to rally


The event was open to the public but organizers asked attendees to volunteer for one hour on the phones or go door-to-door in opposition to the issue, which is a referendum on Senate Bill 5, a law that restricts collective bargaining for public employees.

Harold Wilson, sporting a red shirt with “SB 5” crossed out on it, is one of those volunteers.

Wilson retired after 37 years of teaching in Austintown and said he’s disappointed that the number of people who vote is declining and that some teachers aren’t actively opposing Issue 2.

“They need to get active and put a face on it,” he said.

Wilson vehemently opposes Issue 2.

“I am tired of cuts in education and attacks on educators and attacks on police and firefighters,” he said.

He called Kasich “totally out of touch” and said “there were a few speed bumps along the way” in the effort to make Senate Bill 5 law, referencing the governor’s comment earlier this year to “get on the bus or get run over.”

“The bottom line is you have no power to negotiate [under SB 5]. It’s a take-it or leave-it type of deal,” Wilson said.

Several state legislators and the Democratic Party chairmen spoke at the event.

Polivka said public worker unions are “not the reason Ohio’s budget is in dire straights” and that Issue 2 only reinforces who is in charge: “big business, big lobbyists and ... big campaign contributors.”

State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-33rd, of Canfield, told the near capacity crowd of about 500 that he gets one specific question about Issue 2 every day.

“People say ‘I like parts of it but I think it went too far.’ I tell them you have to vote no because it’s all or nothing. The negotiations that were supposed to happen, never happened. It’s disingenuous for [Republicans] to say [otherwise],” Schiavoni said.

That lack of negotiation, Schiavoni said, points to a larger problem of legislation not being properly vetted.

If an issue affects all Ohioans, then lawmakers need to engage all Ohioans before creating a law, he said.

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