Our national nightmare may soon be over. The country is going to get its opportunity to retire Barack Obama. Republicans, independents in large numbers, and mounting numbers of Democrats realize that despite the historic nature of Obama’s election, things haven’t gone so well. His election created a short-lived feeling of hope and change that grew into hopelessness and change that might fundamentally alter what the founding fathers fought so hard to create.
Today the national unemployment rate is 8.5 percent. It was in Obama’s first month in office that this key indicator was at its lowest point. For the following two years, Democrats had total control with majorities in both houses of Congress. Rather than focusing on jobs and the economy, Obama chose national health care and a stimulus plan that was supposed to hold unemployment to under 8 percent. Health care became “Obamacare” and is now under scrutiny by the Supreme Court. The stimulus has been good for government jobs but the private sector suffers, the national debt soars, and food stamp rolls skyrocket. The housing crisis has left a trail of human wreckage in its wake.
In Ohio the story is brighter. Gov. John Kasich was elected and tackled a budget shortfall of $8 billion. Under his determined leadership, Ohio passed a balanced budget and still maintained scheduled tax reductions. Ohio is creating and saving jobs, rather than losing them. Republicans took a beating over Senate Bill 5, but the problems addressed by S.B. 5 still remain. Hopefully in 2012, the political climate will improve so Democrats and Republicans can work together to resolve some of Ohio’s difficult public employee issues, but possibly at a slower pace than S.B. 5 would have required. One might disagree with the governor on specific issues, but there is no question about his love for Ohio and his determination to make this a better place to live, work and play.
Locally, in the 6th congressional district, which includes the southern half of Mahoning County, Republican Bill Johnson has an excellent chance of returning to Congress. In the new 13th district, a much more difficult district for Republicans, Dr. Mirisha Agana will mount a spirited campaign and present voters with a real choice. The most interesting race to watch may be the contest in the new 59th Ohio statehouse district currently held by Democrat Ron Gerberry. He has lost much of his Austintown base in the new district and is being challenged by Kim Poma from Boardman, a proven vote getter, having been elected three times to the Boardman school board.
Other races to watch include the 7th District Court of Appeals where Judge Mary DeGenaro is being challenged by Atty. Mark Hanni. Hanni, once a Democrat who turned Republican, is now a Democrat again.
Finally, keep an eye on Dave Rossi, Republican candidate for county commissioner. Dave has 29 years of law enforcement experience to bring to county government. Criminal justice consumes a major share of county tax dollars.
Republicans will have much to fight for and much to offer in 2012.
Mark E. Munroe is chairman of the Mahoning County Republican Party and a member of the Board of Elections.