Elizabeth Walters: Issue One changes would curb voice of the public

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 5, 2023

Issue One is an assault on Ohioans, plain and simple. And we need your help to defeat it.

More than 100 years ago, Ohio voters implemented the citizen-led ballot initiative as a way to hold corrupt politicians accountable.

Now, as the FBI dubs the Ohio Statehouse “in a league of its own” for corruption, the last thing we need to do is take power away from the people to hold their politicians accountable.

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Earlier this summer, former Ohio Speaker of the House Larry Householder and former Republican Party Chair Matt Borges were sentenced to a collective 25 years in federal prison for their role in the largest public bribery scheme in state history.

Householder and his political pals in Columbus took more than $60 million in bribes to raise your energy bills in order to help increase profit margins for their Big Energy corporate bosses.

Householder and Borges were aided and abetted by a number of lawmakers who still hold onto power at the statehouse.

At a time when it’s clear that our corrupt elected officials are more interested in lining their own pockets than serving the interests of working Ohioans, we cannot give up our ability to put the issues and causes we as Ohioans care most about on the ballot.

And let me be clear: It’s already difficult to get an issue on the ballot under current law.

Ohioans have to get language approved by a bipartisan board before they even get the opportunity to collect hundreds of thousands of signatures from counties across the state, signatures that must be certified by Ohio’s Secretary of State.

In recent years, Ohioans have used ballot issues to fund community investments, lower property taxes, and pay for local schools — hardly the ‘special interest agenda’ the other side wants to scare you with.

Speaking of special interests, the politicians who are pushing for passage of Issue One are being bankrolled by a single out-of-state billionaire with a history of supporting causes that are out of touch with Ohio voters. They claim they’re trying to protect our Constitution from special interests, all while taking millions from the same dark money groups.

Unable to defend their position on its merits and trying to hide their hypocrisy, supporters of Issue One are resorting to scare tactics and division to try and rob voters of their power. But Ohio voters are smart. They won’t be fooled by these lies.

The contrast in this race couldn’t be clearer.

On one hand, you have politicians like Frank LaRose who are doing the bidding of special interests by trying to sneak through the issue during a $15 million, taxpayer-funded August election when most voters are enjoying their summer vacations.

On the other, you have a grassroots group of bipartisan organizations and voters working to keep power in the hands of the people.

If you want to join us in this fight, we need you to vote and make your voice heard.

Supporters of Issue One have special interests and deep-pocketed donors on their side. But we have something they don’t: You.

So make sure to find your local polling place, bring a valid photo ID and be sure to vote no on or before August 8.

And find five friends, neighbors or loved ones and encourage them to do the same.

Out-of-touch politicians are coming for our rights and our fundamental freedoms. If we don’t push back, they won’t stop their assault on Ohio voters.

We need to send our message loud and clear: power belongs to the people, not politicians, and we won’t go back to a time when corruption and special interests ruled our state.

And with your No vote on Issue 1, we can send that message loud enough for statehouse politicians to finally listen.

— Elizabeth Walters is chair of the Ohio Democratic Party