Local issues, school boards headline election day for Ohio voters

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Ohio voters will fill two congressional seats, decide on several local issues and levies and place candidates on county commissions, city councils and school boards across the state Tuesday when they cast their ballots.

Polls are open in the state from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., and the deadline to register to vote was Oct. 4. Voter identification is required.

The majority of decisions will come at the local level, and school board races are becoming some of the most political and intense of the cycle; in Ohio and across the country. With mask mandates, student gender decision and critical race theory joining more common hot-button issues such as student reading material, the state has seen an uptick in school board candidates this year.

Groups such as The Protect Ohio Children Coalition, a branch of the Ohio Value Voters, began in the spring to provide information to parents on how to address issues at school board meetings, urge people to run for office and to watch schools and school boards across Ohio.

“When schools take steps to bring indoctrination into the classrooms, we are here to shine light on the darkness of dangerous and radical materials being presented to children across the State of Ohio,” according to the group’s website.

The Ohio Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, encouraged voters to evaluate long-term plans of candidates, rather than current hot-button issues.

“The Ohio Education Association is pleased to see so many community members taking an interest in school board races statewide and to see so many educators across Ohio step up to run for school boards in the districts where they live this year,” OEA President Scott DiMauro said. “Decisions made by local school boards have a tremendous impact on the daily lives of our students and educators, as well as the residents of their districts.

“That’s why it’s so important for voters to cast their ballots based on the long-term plans and priorities of each candidate to set our kids up for future success, not where they stand on the short-term, hot button issues that have garnered so much attention this election cycle.”

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Shivers resigned earlier from representing Ohio’s 15th House District. State Rep. Allison Russon, D-Upper Arlington, faces Republican Mike Carely for the seat, which represents part of Columbus and several suburbs.

Democrat Shontel Brown faces Republican Laverne Gore in the 11th Congressional District to replace current HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge. That district covers parts of northeast Ohio.

Ballotpedia called Columbus’ Issue 7 one of the top local issues in some of the country’s largest cities. Issue 7 would create several funds related to clean energy and earmark $87 million to those funds.

City elected officials, including Mayor Andrew Ginther, as well as the majority of the city council, oppose the issue, calling it a scam. Ginter said the money will be diverted from public safety and other areas to a private organization with little to no transparency.

Supporters of Issue 7 have not spoken publicly about the issue.

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