Thursday, February 8, 2018


Today The Stark County Political Report starts a series of blogs featuring candidates in "contested" races appearing on the May 8, 2018 Democratic and Republican political parties ballot candidates.

The objective of this series is through:

  • Q&A e-mail exchanges,
  • SCPR "on camera" interview,
  • Links to other that SCPR sources, 
to provide information on candidates that vie with another for their respective political party nomination to partisan voters so that they are equipped to make an informed choice.

It is common knowledge that in a general election that way too many voters vote Republican or Democratic in alignment with their political party preference in sort of an uninformed, knee-jerk fashion which produces all too many political party loyalists in elected public office.

The one redeeming quality of partisan primary elections that are competitive within a political party is that unless a voter is willing to vote for/against a candidate on some "unthought" criterion, the voter actually has to find an an "on the issues" identity with a candidate to make a distinction of as to whom among candidates carrying the same party label the voter votes for.

We start off  today with the 50th Ohio House District on the Democratic Party side.

Here is a brief biography of candidate Vizzuso.

And here is a e-mail Q&A between the SCPR and candidate Vizzuso of February 1, 2018.

(SCPR) What prompted you to file as a Democratic candidate for state representative for the 50th?

(Vizzuso) I believe now more than ever we need new leadership representing our districts with new ideas and energy to combat our issues. I believe in Democratic values and want to look across the district and share the platform of the Democratic Party to advance our district to prosperity. I believe that the team we have assembled has a deep understanding that democracy works best when everyone is involved and we want to involve all the folks in District 50 and also those that have not been heard for quite some time.

Undoubtedly, you are aware that Debbie Cain (the Dems candidate in 2014) and Cassie Gabelt have taken out petitions to run for the 50th seat.

Your own idea?

This is a decision I made on my own. I have always wanted to give back to the community that helped raise and shape me into the man I am today. I think that for quite some time I have wanted to run and while serving at United Way it became more evident to me that now was the time to step up.

Party officials asked you to run?


What is in your background which you think qualifies you to be a member of the Ohio House?

In 2012 I made a promise to myself to dedicate my life to the service of others and to help leave the world a better place than I found it. From that point on I have explored every avenue to develop as a public servant and as a leader.

In college, I studied Political Science at Ohio University to better understand the function of government and how the system works for the people in a democracy. I also studied law, justice, and culture to see how they intersect and influence how we navigate our system of justice.

After graduation, I decided to take a year and commit to the direct service of others. Through the Pittsburgh Urban Leadership Service Experience, I have had the opportunity to work alongside leaders in Pittsburgh to combat issues facing our education system. I’ve acquired a breadth of knowledge about poverty, affordable housing, public transportation, education, mental health, and healthcare by working with students, families, educators and other service employees.

As a young kid growing up in Alliance, OH, there were many people who inspired me to work hard and achieve the goals that I set for myself. I think I have an opportunity to be that person the youth in our district can look to just as so many people were there for me. I believe that our district needs someone who the people can count on. The people of District 50 can count on me.

How do you plan to differentiate yourself from Cain/Gabelt (assuming they actually file; Gabelt assures me she will)?

I believe that as a Democratic candidate, embracing the diversity and cultural differences in our district is something that candidates in the 50th District have not done for a long time. I see my campaign as an opportunity to bring people together from different neighborhoods and towns and sit down and hear what our shared concerns are. I will be the youngest candidate running in this primary and believe that this is a characteristic that I must embrace. I see myself as an underdog. I will put all of my energy into talking to voters and my policies will always, put the people of District 50 first.

What is your primary issue that should be become the Democratic nominee in a general election which the SCPR thinks will have Reggie Stoltzfus as the Republican candidate?

My primary issue is job creation in Ohio’s 50th District. I think that Ohio has an opportunity to be at the forefront of the clean and renewable energy movement. I believe that if we invest in fixing our infrastructure both for ourselves and to pave the way for these industries we will be successful. This means investing in job training that will give hard-working people in the district the skills they need for industry employment. These industries will provide a living wage for families and we will see prosperity in Northeast Ohio once again.

In addition to your primary issue, what other issues are priorities for you in the event you become the Democratic nominee?

I believe in a quality education that can propel our students into achieving their goals. Our schools are the foundation of our neighborhoods and it’s important we establish equity across Ohio when it comes to receiving an education.

As District 50’s representative, I will work to improve our infrastructure to create jobs and bring small and large businesses to Ohio.  

Ensuring that our seniors have a secure retirement after working hard for our state for decades is important to us. I believe in securing pensions that people have worked for all of their life.

Finally, I believe in ensuring that our rights are protected whether we are a person of color, a member of the lgbt community, a veteran reintegrating into society, a person who has gone through the criminal justice system, or a person with disabilities. Nobody should be discriminated against in the workplace, school, anywhere they shop or spend time with friends and family. I stand with the great people of District 50 against hate and division. It will not be tolerated. We achieve more listening to each other and working together towards the common goals of job creation, strong schools, safe seniors, and an infrastructure that makes travel safe and efficient. I look forward to the opportunity to listen to and work with the people of District 50 to address all of these issues while respecting each other’s viewpoints and differences.

Here is a copy of candidate Vizzuso's petitions filed with the Stark County Board of Elections:

1 comment:

Sweeney said...

Martin, it should not go without saying that your daily reports provide a vital service to the citizens of Stark County. And you are a devoted servant to attending meetings and soliciting interviews so that we may enjoy a broader perspective. That you are also occasionally hard hitting and critical probably does not endear you to the political cadre but obviously you are duty bound to do so. The start of today's series on the candidates that have filed for the primaries is also a great service to us. I take the occasion of the first interviewee today, Courtlen Lizzuso of the 50th District, and myself residing in the 50th District to advise future candidates to take these interviews seriously. I politely offer the blunt criticism that the candidate's responses were lame and not compelling. It sounded like something my high school freshman would write. This is the SCPR, not the shopper's newspaper tossed unwanted in one's front yard. For example, on education, the writer provided no examples of the issues that school systems in his district face and how these should be addressed. Equity of education? How vague is that? Possibly this was to be inferred by the Democratic mantra of "we will send you more money"; this may be a partisan jab but without framing some facts, one is open to such dismissive attack. I hope the candidate uses this feedback to consider better reasons to run, and more so, better reasons for us to remember his name on primary day. And to candidates in the interviews ahead, put some substance into your candidacy! Readers of the SCPR are active voters, and if I may serve as an example, for five years I faithfully voted absentee while on remote assignments, because Stark County is where my home and family are. So please use the opportunity Mr Olsen provides wisely.