By David Skolnick
While state Issue 2 was soundly defeated statewide, the losses in Democratic-dominated Mahoning and Trumbull counties were greater.
The issue was a referendum on Senate Bill 5, a state law passed earlier this year to restrict some collective-bargaining rights from public workers.
With 96.4 percent of the statewide vote reporting, 61.3 percent of voters rejected Issue 2.
But in Mahoning County, 71.8 percent of voters rejected Issue 2, and 71.5 percent of voters voted against it in Trumbull County.
In Columbiana County, 60.6 percent of voters rejected Issue 2.
“This is probably the most historic win in Ohio political history,” said state Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-60th, an Issue 2 opponent. “The state Legislature voted one way and the people voted the other. A clear and concise message was sent to the governor and his minions. He was wrong, they were wrong and hopefully they’ll change their ways.”
Mahoning County Republican Party Chairman Mark Munroe called the anti-Issue 2 effort “probably one of the most dishonest campaigns I’ve seen. They were successful, but over time, the Legislature is going to come back, piece by piece, and approve much of what is in the bill. About 80 percent to 90 percent of what’s in Issue 2 will be passed by some time late next year. In the end, most of these reforms will pass.”
Two vocal Issue 2 opponents — T.J. Assion, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 141, which represents Mahoning County sheriff’s deputies, and Christopher Weaver, vice president and legislative director for International Association of Firefighters Local 312, which represents Youngstown firefighters — said the bill was an overreach by Gov. John Kasich.
“The results say the majority of the public in Ohio hasn’t forgotten who built this country, this state and this community and that’s the middle class,” Assion said. “We’re willing to do whatever is necessary to help this state. But [Kasich] wanted to stuff it down our throats.
“But I do want to thank the governor because he has brought us so close together — the middle class and unions.”
Assion and Weaver said Kasich should have sat down with union leaders to discuss ways to save money.
Even with Issue 2 rejected, Assion and Weaver said they would support two of its key provisions: a requirement that all public employees contribute 10 percent of the cost of their pensions and 15 percent of their health-insurance premium costs. The two and their fellow union members already contribute 10 percent toward pensions and 10 percent toward their premiums.
“They could have done the 10 percent and the 15 percent from the start and we wouldn’t have had this at all,” Assion said.
The results, Weaver said, “sends a clear and strong message to the governor and the Legislature that you don’t hurt the middle class of Ohio.”
Mahoning County Democratic Party Chairman David Betras said the results were “more than just a routing. It’s clear the values of John Kasich and the [Youngstown/Warren Regional] Chamber hold are not the values of the people of this community.”
While Issue 2 failed, Issue 3, a constitutional amendment to block federal health-care mandates from taking effect in Ohio, passed statewide. With 96.4 percent of the vote counted in Ohio, 65.6 percent of those casting ballots approved the amendment.
In Mahoning County, it received 56.7 percent approval; in Trumbull, 59.4 percent of voters approved it, and 65.9 percent of Columbiana County voters supported it.