Kaleidoscope: Reflections on a long election journey; thank God, it's over!

Published:

by Ken Lahmers

Editor

Whew! It's finally over.

For months, the American people were bombarded with ads on television and radio and in newspapers, fliers in their mailboxes and phone messages urging them to vote for either President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.

We also endured hundreds of attacks and counterattacks by other candidates such as Sherrod Brown, Josh Mandel, Jim Renacci and Betty Sutton.

I received two phone messages from Obama, telling me why I should vote for him -- even though I am registered on the "Do not call" list. That did not make me happy.

It is sad that Obama -- or any incumbent president -- has to spend so much time away from his job, and it is atrocious that millions of dollars are spent on presidential and other office campaigns.

Seems to me all that money could be used to help unemployed or underemployed people find jobs, provide food for the hungry or for other causes benefiting Americans.

But sadly, that's the way American politics work.

England's prime minister -- David Cameron -- was on "Late Night with David Letterman" a few weeks ago, and he said over there campaigns for his office are limited to $150,000. Wow!

But after a tiring, tight and exciting race, Obama will serve as our country's top executive for another four years.

HOW SCHOOL LEVIES FARED

Locally, school officials were thrilled that voters narrowly approved a 5.9-mill additional levy, which they say should keep the district in decent financial shape for the next five to six years.

Since it is a continuous levy, that millage will be collected in perpetuity; it will not have to be renewed every five years like many levies are.

Continuous levies are criticized by many voters because they never expire. That fact was pointed out by the Portage County TEA Party when it did not recommend passage of Aurora's levy.

When the first round of results were released about 8:15 on election night, the levy was failing 1,558 to 1,516.

By 9:30 and the second round of results, the count was 2,143 against to 1,924 for. By 9:50 and the third update, the count was 3,278 against and 3,263 for.

By 10:10 and the fourth update, the issue was passing 4,210 to 4,020. By 11:05 when final numbers came in, the issue had passed 4,459 to 4,249, not including a handful of Summit County votes.

According to the Ohio School Boards Association, 105 of 192 school tax issues on ballots statewide passed (55 percent).

About two-thirds of all school levies decided Nov. 6 were for new money, and the passage rate of those was only 45 of 122.

"These are challenging times not only for Ohioans, but for our public schools," said OSBA Executive Director Richard Lewis. "School districts, in many cases, have had to turn to their communities to help them weather an unprecedented storm and maintain educational excellence."

In Portage County, new money school levies failed in the Field and Waterloo districts and passed in Crestwood and Rootstown.

Surprisingly to me, Cleveland's whopping 15-mill school levy passed. That means up to $85 million more per year. How some of the city's poverty-stricken residents will afford it is beyond me.

Akron's additional school levy also was successful.

Among other school levies which failed, though, were Nordonia Hills, Tallmadge, Chardon, Newbury, Ledgemont, Medina, Cloverleaf, Painesville Riverside and Black River.

OTHER ISSUES, CANDIDATES

A 0.25 percent income tax hike in Kent failed by 923 votes. It was one of the three issues that I voted on at the election; I didn't vote for any candidates. The state issues were the other two.

The hardluck Portage County Health District again failed to get a tax increase passed. The last one approved was in 1955 -- yes, 57 years ago. Countless requests for new money have been turned down.

In Reminderville, residents narrowly repealed a charter amendment approved in 2009 that would have called for Council candidates to run in three wards. Seems to me that was the right move since the village is too small to be divided into wards.

As far as local races, there were no major surprises.

Kathleen Chandler, who has garnered overwhelming support throughout Portage County over the years, will return to political office as a county commissioner despite the TEA Party questioning her age and whether she's passionate enough to serve.

Chandler previously served as a county commissioner, Kent mayor and Councilwoman and, of course, succeeded Aurora's Ann Womer Benjamin, who was term-limited, as state representative.

Two Democratic county officeholders survived challenges from Republicans, while several others ran unopposed.

After Jan. 1, 2013, Aurorans will be represented by a newcomer in the Ohio House, as Geauga Countian Matt Lynch won the new 76th District seat. Kathleen Clyde, who represents Aurora now, will continue in the 75th District seat.

Also retaining their seats are U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and 18th District state Sen. John Eklund. Both survived serious challenges. Brown is a Democrat and Eklund a Republican.

Two Ohio Supreme Court justices -- Robert Cupp and Yvette McGee Brown -- were ousted, and will be succeeded by William O'Neill and Sharon Kennedy. Terrence O'Donnell retained his seat.

Also, 11th District Court of Appeals Judge Mary Jane Trapp was ousted by Mary O'Toole.

"Hope" was a key word that President Obama used in his acceptance speech early in the morning after he was re-elected.

Obama has made strides during his first four years, having brought the nation out of a severe recession and saving the auto industry, but even he admits he didn't accomplish some of the things he'd have liked.

The debt is growing at an alarming rate, and there continues to be concerns about Obamacare, energy and foreign policy.

"Hopefully," Obama can accomplish some good things in his next four years. For him to do so, though, will require a lot more cooperation from Congress than has been the case in recent years.

THE AURORA ELECTION 2013

While I'm on the subject of politics, the city of Aurora is gearing up for a mayoral and Council election next year.

With the resignation of Mayor Lynn McGill, Council President James Fisher will slide into the mayor's chair effective Nov. 30 and will serve until Dec. 31, 2013.

Candidates will run for that post and the Council-at-large seat of Joe Kastelic, plus the ward seats of Jim Vaca (1), Carl Rausch (3) and whoever replaces Fisher in Ward 5.

Should be an interesting year. Usually, candidates declare their intentions to run for mayor in March or April. Aurora doesn't have a primary election for city offices.

Email: klahmers@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4189

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