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Some candidates just avoid the press

The reaction of voters to some far-right proposals by freshman Ohio Rep. Mike Loychik, R-Bazetta, seems to be utter shock — on both sides of the spectrum.

Voters either are thrilled with what Loychik is doing in Columbus and believe Trumbull County has long needed such a conservative representative, or they’re spitting fire over Loychik’s extreme proposals to make Ohio a Second Amendment sanctuary state and to rename Mosquito Lake State Park after Donald Trump.

The fact is, love him or hate him, voters went to the polls voting for a guy they really knew little or nothing about.

I can say this because, frankly, as your local newspaper editor, even I knew little or nothing about political candidate Loychik.

Generally, I get to know local candidates pretty well. During election season, we send questionnaires to candidates in contested races, seeking their background, work history and priorities.

Our reporters do stories about contested races, reaching out to discuss each candidate’s views. I sit in on personal interviews with candidates in many races to help determine this newspaper’s endorsements.

Also, two-way communication about candidates is welcomed via letters to the editor, where voters share thoughts about candidates and political parties.

The goal of all this interaction is not just to improve my knowledge for personal voting reasons (although, I admit, it helps when I’m at the polls). Rather, it’s to fulfill our newspaper’s obligation of assisting you, dear reader, as an informed voter.

That’s why it’s so frustrating when candidates dodge our calls, refuse to return questionnaires and intentionally decline our requests for interviews.

Don’t you think it’s odd that a candidate would refuse our invitation to even try to win our endorsement?

When that happens, I can’t help but think just maybe they’re avoiding hard questions from our editorial board, or more likely, the political and institutional knowledge of our politics reporter David Skolnick. There are few questions David won’t ask. And frankly, he usually knows the answer before posing the question, leaving politicians and candidates who think they might skate around an issue, well, on thin ice.

One-sided promotion on a candidate’s Facebook page or shiny postcards blasting political opponents that fill up your mailbox may seem slick, but really, how does any of that help voters understand the candidate’s real attitude and views?

In the last election cycle, Loychik was one of those candidates who avoided our calls. He did not return our questionnaire and declined to participate in our endorsement process. He refused to answer our questions or tell voters — via the media — about his views and approach to issues. Had he participated, we might have been able to tell you ahead of time about his extreme-right leanings, and maybe even his plans to rename Mosquito Lake State Park after Trump. Agree or disagree, at least you would have known before you voted.

It’s true we always get our share of candidates refusing to meet with us. With the May primary upon us, this is the time of year when I spend my days bending over backward and jumping through hoops attempting to get interviews scheduled with often uncooperative candidates.

For instance, Warren 1st Ward Councilman Larry Larson turned down our invitation to seek our endorsement in 2019 and again this month. Several attempts by our reporter to reach Hubbard 2nd Ward council candidate Paul Toth, challenger to incumbent Robin Zambrini, went unanswered — until after the story ran last week.

If candidates don’t want to speak to their would-be constituents through the media when they’re seeking office, how transparent do you think they’ll be once they’re elected?

Here’s a hint. Since taking office, Loychik has not returned one phone call, text message or email from this newspaper. He does sometimes send press releases, but he is the only state legislator representing our Valley who will not take our calls to discuss what he’s doing for his constituents here.

Before you say that’s his prerogative, just remember this. We seek answers on behalf of constituents who might just be wondering what he’s doing for their tax dollars that pay his salary.

blinert@tribtoday.com

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