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Stakes high as low voter turnout looms

Chilling temperatures and a low voter turnout cast a dark cloud on the high stakes Nov. 7 general election on Tuesday as Ohioans go to the polls.

Controversial statewide ballot measure Issue 2 is garnering most of the attention, but mayoral seats is up for grabs in Cincinnati, Cleveland and East Cleveland and other surrounding cities where incumbents are fighting to stave off pesky challengers.

A Yes vote on Issue will require the state to enact Chapter 194 of the Ohio Revised Code, which would:

Require the State of Ohio, including its state departments, agencies and entities, to not pay more for prescription drugs than the price paid by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.

Establish that the individual petitioners responsible for proposing the law have a direct and personal stake in defending the law; require the State to pay petitioners’ reasonable attorney fees and other expenses; require the petitioners to pay $10,000 to the State if the law is held by a court to be unenforcable and limit the petitioners’ personal liability to that amount; and require the Attorney General to defend the law if challenged in court.

Issue 2 is funded by the Aids Health Foundation, but its opponents (pharmaceutical drug companies) argue that Issue 2 will only increase the cost of prescription drugs. Many citizens are torn on the ballot measure alleging that it lacks clarity.

African American Democrat Yvette Simpson is hoping to move up from City Council to Mayor of Cincinnati. The Lincoln Heights native and Princeton High School graduate became the first member of family to graduate college at Miami University, and furthered her education by obtaining her law degree from the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

She was first elected to Council in 2011, focusing on developing and expanding Cincinnati small businesses, empowering Cincinnati youth, and providing tools for our neighborhoods to become more vibrant places to live and work and she established the City’s first Homeless-to-Work pilot program.

Meanwhile in Cleveland three term incumbent Mayor Democrat Frank G. Jackson became the City’s 56th Mayor on January 2, 2006. He has since been re-elected twice - in 2009 and 2013.

As Mayor, Jackson focused on ensuring that the city offers an excellent quality of life for every resident, business and visitor and is addressing every aspect of City operations and policy to guarantee that he reaches that goal.

Jackson believes in building partnerships with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and community organizations to address the causes and impacts of gun and youth violence.

Mayor Jackson is a Cleveland Public Schools graduate and Army veteran. He earned an associate’s degree from Cuyahoga Community College and his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and law degree from Cleveland State University. He began his public service career as an Assistant City Prosecutor in the Cleveland Municipal Court Clerk’s Office. From 1990 through 2005, Jackson represented Cleveland’s 5th Ward on Cleveland City Council. From 2002-2005, Jackson also served as President of Cleveland City Council.

His opponent Democrat Zack Reed relinquished his City Council seat to run for mayor. The former Ward 2 Councilman Reed had been a member of Council since 2001, representing the southeast area of the city, including Mt. Pleasant, Union-Miles and Mill Creek Falls neighborhoods. Councilman Reed’s legislative efforts have focused on public safety, resident empowerment, and improvements of schools in his ward.

He sponsored legislation that allows free parking in downtown Cleveland on the day after Thanksgiving and the day after Christmas, both heavy shopping days. And for the past two decades he has joined with the Marine Corps to sponsor a “Toys for Tots” fundraiser, raising more than $10,000 and providing 20,000 toys for children.

He had security cameras installed on Warner Road.

As Councilman Reed served on Council’s Municipal Services & Properties Committee; Workforce & Community Benefits Committee and the Transportation Committee.

Democrat Brandon L. King easily defeated Judge Una Keenon in the primary and is seeking the mayor's job in impoverished East Cleveland.

King, 49, who has served as mayor since December's recall of former Mayor Gary Norton and will be challenged by Devin Branch, a Green Party member who led the costly recall.

King, has worked hard to turn around this troubled suburb. King helped close the notorious Arco Recycling Center, beefed up the police department and passed a five-year fiscal recovery plan.

Branch, 34, is a substitute teacher and former East Cleveland Library board member.

Many Ward seats will also be hotly contested, among them will be Ward 1 where Joe Jones will take on incumbent Ward 1 Councilman Terrell H. Pruitt.

Pruitt was appointed to City Council in 2008 and has since been elected two times, representing the neighborhoods of Lee-Harvard, Lee-Seville, Mount Pleasant and Union-Miles.

Councilman Pruitt has been engaged in various ambitious projects in his ward, including the rebuilding of two schools, John F. Kennedy High School and Whitney M. Young Leadership Academy. He has been instrumental in planning and financing the building of a library, recreation center and a mountain bike path in his ward.

However, it was a decision by a Cuyahoga County judge that led the way for a political comeback bid by former City Councilman Joe Jones.

Jones, 48, represented Ward 1 on Cleveland's southeast side for seven and a half years, beginning in 1998. But that came to a crashing halt when he pleaded guilty to a federal mail fraud charge as part of a wide-ranging municipal corruption probe that targeted businessman and political insider Nate Gray.

Jones resigned his seat. With the felony conviction, under Ohio law, Jones was ineligible to remain on City Council.

But in November 2015, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John Russo granted an expungement that, in the eyes of Ohio law, seals Jones' record though the conviction remains on record in federal court.

Pruitt was appointed to replace Nina Turner, when she became a state senator and won voter approval to finish her term.

In Ward 2, Kevin Bishop and Geoff Fitch defeated eight candidates in the primary and will now vie for the seat.

Youngstown Mayor Race should go to Jamael Tito Brown.

Brown is a lifelong resident of Youngstown, Ohio. He is the Director of Operations for the Mahoning County Treasurer’s Office, where he manages the day to day operations. Tito is married to Lynette C. Brown, formerly Lynette Frost. They have 5 children, Aaron, Kimberly, Camille & Clarisa, and Quentin. In August, 2011, Tito was appointed to Youngstown City Council as President of Council. Prior to the appointment, he served as 3rd Ward City Councilman for 3 ½ years. Tito was also a Member of the Youngstown City School Board for 4 years. Tito won the 2017 Democratic primary election for Mayor of the City of Youngstown.

An anticipated 30 percent voter turnout has been projected, but it doesn’t matter whom you cast your vote for. However it is paramount that you do exercise your right to vote.

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