Spring Arrives with Town Hall Meetings Around Ohio

Spring Arrives With Town Hall Meetings Around Ohio

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Spring was the onset of a slew of Town Hall Meetings in Ohio. Town Hall Meetings were held in Delaware, Columbus, Bowling Green, Marion, Perrysburg, and Portsmouth on topics concerning Redistricting, Judicial Reform and Election Law. These issues also brought into the discussions tax issues and the importance of accurate counting in the coming census for determining how federal funds will be distributed.

Marion continues to draw interested community members to Town Hall Meetings

Marion continues to draw interested community members to Town Hall Meetings

On March 24, the League of Women Voters of Delaware County hosted a Redistricting Town Hall Meeting at Ohio Wesleyan University. Former State Representative and long time League member Joan Lawrence and LWV Ohio Elections Specialist Ann Henkener spoke about how critical the redistricting is for Ohioans, and emphasized how important the participation process in the 2010 census will be for towns and cities to get federal funds. Following this, an open forum was held with Delaware County Commissioners Tommy Thompson (President), Ken O’Brien, and Todd Hanks on redistricting, the importance of federal funds at the local level and other local issues.

The well-attended group (78%) felt that thought redistricting was important and half of the respondents reported that they would consider contacting an elected official. Our representatives in government can only hear us if we Speak Up! (Click here to go to Speak Up! now, on right side of page)

The League of Women Voters of Metro Columbus hosted its third Town Hall Meeting, which dealt with Judicial Independence March 26. The Honorable Kim Browne and attorney Scott Sturges answered questions and discussing Judicial independence, Judicial Campaign Finance, Judicial Recusal and specifically, the recent Supreme Court hearing on the controversial judicial case Caperton v. Massey Coal in West Virginia.* Judge Browne showed how judicial campaign contributions are reported and tracked. (*Did you know that the Caperton v. Massey Coal case inspired John Grisham’s book, “The Appeal”?)

The League of Women Voters of Marion hosted its third very successful Town Hall Meeting on April 16 at the Tri-River Career Center. Honorees included Marion County Sheriff’s Office Auxiliary Unit, Celebrating 40 Years of Service; Jerry Davis, accepting on behalf of Betty L. Davis, who began a bereaved parents group; and Joe Dedany, who developed the Ohio Heartland Community Action Fund.

Marion Sheriff’s Office Auxiliary Unit, Jerry Davis, Joe Dedany and Reverend Wes Jones.

This Marion event heralded the topic: “Redistricting Reform, Our Congressman Forever? The Politics of Congressional District Line-Drawing.” The four concerns of redistricting, compactness, communities of interest, representative fairness and competitiveness, were ranked in order of importance by participants. More than 120 people attended and joined in the discussion. Ann Henkener spoke on the mechanics and effects of gerrymandering of the Karen Rainey spoke on the importance of communities being accurately counted in the census, because the census totals determine the number of congressional representatives and the amounts of federal money which go to the districts. 81% of participants surveyed said that Marion’s economy is of major importance, 71% said redistricting was important and 56% of the people who attended said they were motivated to contact a public official.

The League of Women Voters of Portsmouth/Scioto County hosted the Town Hall Meeting on April 20 concerning “Election Law: Closed and Open Primaries” at the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center. Peg Rosenfield, Ohio Elections Specialist, and Linda Jones, regional liaison from the Secretary of State’s office, were the speakers. Approximately 85 people were in attendance to also honor retiring Judge Richard Schisler, and County Engineer Clyde Willis. Attendees learned that closed primaries mean that a voter must be registered with either major party and can vote in that primary only. Open primaries are open to all registered voters regardless of party. Closed primaries, which is the current Ohio system, disenfranchises voters if they are not affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican party.

Bowling Green THM Participants

The League of Women Voters of Bowling Green hosted a Judicial Independence Town Hall Meeting on April 21, which was co-sponsored by the Wood County Bar Association. They honored Judge Charles Kurfess for his service. The two speakers were Judge David Woessner and Max Rayle. The roundtable discussions were lively, and once again, the discussion also turned to elements of Grisham’s “The Appeal” and the case of Caperton v. Massey Coal. 95% of this crowd surveyed said that Judicial Independence was an important issue in their community and 53% said they would consider contacting an elected official.

Young people have chance to get involved

The League of Women Voters of the Perrysburg Area hosted a Town Hall Meeting on Election Reform with Ann Henkener and Peg Rosenfield on April 28. There was a reactor panel which included two members of the Wood County Board of Elections: Terry Burton, and Debbie Hazard. The format was especially interesting: Ms. Henkener interviewed Ms. Rosenfield, who is an expert in the area of Election Law. Questions were posed by the audience by tables. There were many concerns from these table groups, many concerned with the possibility of voter fraud, and the speakers used facts to demonstrate the scarcity of voter fraud in Ohio.

Perrysburg Town Hall Meeting brought out the community

Remember that Town Hall Meetings are a great way to learn about political issues in the state of Ohio and how to make an impact on these important issues. It is a great way to connect with other concerned citizens, organizations. Hosting honorees can also unite a community by remembering those who serve the greater good. If you would like to host a Town Hall Meeting or find out more, contact Mary Helen Hart, imPACT Program coordinator, at democracy@lwvohio.org (614) 469-1505.

LWV member Jacki Stedman with Mr. and Mrs. Carlos Cordova. Carlos Cordova was an Honoree at the Perrysburg Town Hall Meeting.