Who am I?
I am a retiring history teacher working to defend the Progressive Democratic Party values of fairness, equality and opportunity for all. My campaign slogan is 100% committed to the 99%.
I am 56 years old and have had a very rewarding career as a public school educator. My wife of 27 years and I have raised three wonderful daughters who are now young adults. With my family obligations now requiring much less time and my teaching career nearly over, I have decided to devote my remaining years to defending the values described above.
Personally, I have always had Progressive values, even before the term was in use. I was dismayed by the Reagan years, had some hope restored during the Clinton years, dismayed again during the Bush years and like many, I was swept up by the promise of "Hope and Change" in 2008. It was at that time that I began to learn the art of knocking on doors and talking to average people about their concerns. I drew strength from them and learned from them as well as gaining more and more confidence in my ability to communicate. I canvassed in 2009 to gain support for the Affordable Health Care Act. I canvassed again in 2010 to try to get governor Strickland reelected. During this time the Tea Party emerged and like most Progressives I laughed at the thought of them gaining much traction. By 2011 however it was clear what they (and the vast sums of money behind them) were up to. Wars on Workers, the Middle Class, Public Education, and Women began. Living in Ohio I was thrust into Ground Zero of the War on Workers with the passage of SB 5 and the threatened destruction of my profession. I ran the Southwest Cuyahoga County office, which was at my Union's office, and enjoyed the victory when it was repealed in November. I have always been a proud member of the American Federation of Teachers - running the political operation at my local and serving on the Executive Council at the state level. This was our finest hour. Last year I began full time work as a Neighborhood Team Leader on the Obama campaign, often putting in a 6-hour day after my school day ended, and full shifts on the weekends. My skills as a community organizer became quite honed during this time. I am retiring from teaching on October 31, 2013. I believe grassroots Progressive movements are this century's Underground Railroad in a fight against unchecked corporate control. If we are not ultimately successful, this country will be destroyed. I consider myself now to be a full time conductor on this Railroad. I consider myself to be a soldier fighting to defend Progressive Democratic Party values in Wars on Workers, the Middle Class, Public Education and Women. I am 100% committed to the 99%.
Why am I running?
I am running for office for four main reasons.
First, it is the best position for me to be able to maximize my role as a defender of the Progressive Democratic Party values of fairness, equality and opportunity for all. Being a State Rep would mean that I could work on the inside as a legislator and on the outside as a political activist and community organizer. Many of the State Reps in Ohio are in Columbus the 3 days during the week when the General Assembly is in session and do nothing politically other than that. That would not be me. I would work tirelessly around the county on issues and to get other progressive candidates elected at the local level. Inside the Statehouse I would of course work to get Progressive Legislation passed.
Second, The Ohio General Assembly needs more progressive voices but due to Republican gerrymandering, there are only a handful of districts where a progressive like me has a chance of winning. District 14 needs a progressive State Representative because it includes a large part of western Cuyahoga County and gerrymandering has placed most of the surrounding areas in solidly Republican voting blocks. With a progressive in office for District 14, voters in these gerrymandered areas will still be exposed to progressive values. The District 14 seat is currently held by another progressive who cannot run again due to term limits.
Third, I know how state government works and can do the job. I have followed state government closely over the years and have seen what the right wing agenda can do. As a private citizen, I have frequently been to demonstrations and information gathering events in Cuyahoga County and Columbus concerning the atrocities the Republicans have committed over the last few years. As a member of the Executive Council of my union, the Ohio Federation of Teachers, I have frequently lobbied state legislators in a one on one setting. I have taught history and government for the past 35 years, so I have a very good handle on how government operates.
Fourth, I have a good chance of winning. If I lived in one of the districts where 85% of the voters are Republican, I would really have to think twice before throwing all the time and effort into a progressive campaign. I live in district that is 65 – 35 Democratic. Most likely, I will be endorsed by the Ohio Federation of Teachers, Ohio Education Association, and the Cleveland Teachers Union (the largest union in the county). In addition, because of the large numbers of contacts I have made through numerous grassroots political projects and through my work with OFA on the Obama campaigns, I should be able to mount one of the largest grassroots efforts ever seen in a state rep race. I will however be likely facing two centrist democrats with a lot of money in next May’s primary and will need help from groups like Democracy for America to win.
My top three policy goals are
1. Work to find a permanent solution to the school funding problem in Ohio. Right now school funding is based primarily on a property tax levy system which forces people to choose between higher taxes and a quality education. Since the Republicans took over in 2010 this problem has gotten worse due to the funneling of billions of dollars in state revenue to the upper classes and corporations in the form of tax cuts. School districts and municipalities are forced to accept a much smaller slice of the pie and school districts have to ask for higher and higher property tax levies. One of my top areas of expertise is public education, having spent my entire career as a teacher. I have already worked on this issue inside the statehouse by lobbying for the Ohio Federation of Teachers and outside the statehouse as an advocate in my community.
2. Work to expand the rights of workers and/or prevent them from being taken away. Right out of the box in 2011 the Republicans came up with Senate Bill 5, designed to destroy public sector unions in Ohio. This year legislation has already been introduced in the General Assembly to make Ohio a Right to Work state for both public and private sector unions. It is believed that this was not pursued earlier only because it would hurt Republican governor John Kasich’s reelection effort in 2014. It is widely believed that they will attempt passage of a Right to Work law during the lame duck session immediately following the 2014 election similar to what happened in Michigan. If that happens, my top priority upon entering the General Assembly in 2015 will be to fight this legislation. Like public education, workers’ rights and the protection of unions will be a priority. During my teaching career, I have had a great deal of experience at all levels of union work and will be retiring as the Vice President of Political and Legislative Affairs. I was heavily involved in the massive grassroots effort to repeal SB 5 in 2011. At this time, I’m working with the Ohio AFL-CIO on a project to educate the public about what Right to Work really means in preparation for the fight which is inevitable.
3. Work to undo the damage to Women’s Reproductive Rights that the current Republican administration has passed as well as work to assure that a constitutional amendment is passed in Ohio to guarantee Marriage Equality. To most of the general public, these are known as social issues. To a progressive like me, these are issues of fairness and equality. My campaign Facebook page and website are already posting comments and events to promote these issues. What can be done legislatively of course depends on who the governor is, as well as the make-up of the General Assembly. This is true for the issues above as well.
My DFA Values
My campaign slogan is “100% committed to the 99%” My campaign buzzwords are fairness, equality and opportunity for all. My slogan and buzzwords are displayed prominently on my website, tee shirts and will be displayed on everything else concerning my campaign as it develops. While the semantics are slightly different than the core value phrasing used by Democracy for America, I believe we are on exactly the same page in our Progressive view of the world. I will specifically elaborate below.
Community – The key to victory in my campaign is a giant grassroots effort of people talking to people in my district. I believe I will have an army of veteran, experienced canvassers to go along with my own extensive door knocking. I have to rely on this tactic to win because I am not likely to have nearly the amount of money as my opponents but even if I did have the money, my tactics would not change. The heart of any Progressive campaign has to be neighbors talking to neighbors and neighbors listening to neighbors. Asking questions and carefully listening to answers will be the core of any script developed in my campaign. The specific issues important to my district will crystallize as the campaign develops but I believe the mere presence of a grassroots campaign done right develops and enhances a sense of community. This is particularly true in state rep races which tend to have a large number of under votes because many people don’t pay attention to state government. Of course, my campaign workers and I have to be at non-political events in the community as well, but this something that experienced grassroots campaigners do anyway.
Security – In a state rep race, security in terms of foreign policy is not usually an issue. However, security in terms of strengthening the economy, keeping the environment safe and funding to develop strong public school are huge issues. In Ohio, the current Republican administration has developed a program called Jobs Ohio which we in the progressive community refer to as Robs Ohio. So far 1.2 billion dollars of state revenue has been funneled into this program for private corporations who are promising to create jobs. Not surprisingly, few have been created. As one of my talking points, I will simply ask people whether they feel more secure with state funds going to Jobs Ohio or if the funds were going to schools and municipalities and programs that are sure to create jobs. Fracking is also a huge issue in Ohio although it does not directly affect the urban-suburban district I hope to represent.
Liberty – I believe my third policy goal above explains this in terms of specific forms of discrimination I would emphasize in my campaign. But specific phrasing would go something like this. Government has no right to interfere with a women’s reproductive freedom. Government has no right to interfere with who a person chooses to marry. These are infringements on one’s liberty.
My Campaign is People Powered!
My Campaign is People Powered
My outreach to local progressive groups began long before my decision to run for office. It was my involvement in these groups and eventual leadership positions that contributed to my decision to run. My initial campaign email contact group has over 500 names from the two groups I have been actively involved with over the last several years. The first is about 350 teachers from my local union, the Berea Federation of Teachers. I am the Vice President of Political and Legislative Affairs of a union that delivered over 300 shifts of canvassing in the repeal of SB 5 in 2011 and over 150 shifts of work in a State Rep campaign to oust a Tea Party conservative candidate in 2012. All of this activism from a local that has only around 500 members. They are experienced activists who have worked on other projects and will work for me on my 2014 campaign. The second group is about 150 people who I met through Organizing for America in the two Obama campaigns. I know this is not necessarily a progressive group, but the volunteers are overwhelmingly progressive and have participated in numerous progressive activities with me in the Cleveland area. They are experienced grassroots, progressive activists who will work for my campaign.
My campaign has reached out and participated with two progressive groups that tie in nicely to my third policy goal above. One is “Ohio Marriage Equality” that has been circulating petitions to get a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot. We have participated in the signature gathering process as well as the local Pride parade. I have also made an initial contact with the local chapter of the Stonewall Democrats and will actively seek their endorsement. The other group is “Stand with Ohio Women”. It was formed recently to fight the attacks on Reproductive freedom in the Ohio budget Bill. We plan to participate in a large demonstration in Columbus in October.
Of course, in the modern era, social media is a useful tool. My campaign Facebook page has a following that grows daily and I keep it updated with progressive messages.
My campaign will proudly display any and all Progressive groups’ endorsements. They are the first ones I am pursuing other than that of my own union. I have completed the application and interview process from Progressive Majority and have been accepted to their Farm Team. I look forward to completing their endorsement process after the 2013 elections. I have also completed the application for endorsement by the Bold Progressives and of course this one for Democracy for America. Strangely, there is no group called Cuyahoga County Progressives. One of my projects after next year’s election, win or lose, will be to form one. There is a very strong group of progressive activists in Summit County, just south of here. I have been in contact with them about a possible endorsement and will model the group I form in Cuyahoga County after them.