It should come as no surprise to readers of this space that our endorsement for the Democratic nomination for the 64th Ohio House District seat goes to Michael O’Brien. We have supported O’Brien for most of his three decades in politics in Trumbull County.
That said, we are impressed with the two other candidates seeking the nomination in the May 6 primary, Ken MacPherson and Eugene Mach II. Both are newcomers to politics, yet hearing them discuss the pressing issues confronting the district, the region and the state of Ohio leads us to the conclusion either one would represent the 64th with distinction in the Ohio House of Representatives.
It’s almost a waste to have three strong candidates seeking one position, given the dearth of good contenders in so many other races in the Mahoning Valley.
So, why do we endorse O’Brien for the party primary? Because he knows the district (it includes the city of Warren, Warren Township, Howland Township and several other rural communities) like the back of his hand.
He has served as a Trumbull County commissioner, mayor of Warren and Warren councilman, which means he not only has first-hand knowledge of the issues and challenges confronting the area, but has a personal relationship with most of the elected officials and other public employees in the Valley.
Indeed, O’Brien, the son of former long-time county Clerk of Courts Margaret O’Brien, has established a close working relationship with governments in Mahoning and even Columbiana counties, which means he would be in a position to not only represent the 64th District, but to work with other members of this region’s state legislative delegation.
That said, if a voter in next month’s Democratic primary is of the opinion that local politics needs new blood, either MacPherson or Mach would fit the bill. Neither has run for public office before, but listening to each one’s view on such crucial topics as job creation, K-12th grade education funding and the controversial fracking system of drilling for oil and gas, you would think they’ve been in the business of government for a long time.
Indeed, it’s uncanny how each of the three candidates offers similar solutions to such long-standing problems as funding for public education. O’Brien, MacPherson and Mach are of the opinion that the Republican-controlled state House and Senate have not adhered to the Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling that the current system of funding public primary and secondary education through property taxes is unconstitutional.
Addressing the problem
The three candidates for the Democratic nomination for the 64th House District agree that the Republican-controlled Legislature must seriously deal with the funding issue.
Likewise, they are critical of the GOP’s slashing the Local Government Fund in order to balance the state’s biennium budget.
O’Brien, MacPherson and Mach contend that local governments have been forced to cut spending because of what was done in Columbus. They insist that the money should be restored and have pledged to take the fight to the General Assembly.
It should be clear by now that while we endorse O’Brien for the Democratic nomination, we would not be overly concerned if either MacPherson or Mach were to win.
However, given his depth of experience, his first-hand knowledge of the issues confronting the district and his regional political reach, we strongly endorse O’Brien.
The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Randy Law and Green Party candidate Elaine Mastromatteo in the general election.