Saturday, October 25, 2008


It is difficult to criticize Stark County's local unit of the League of Women Voters (LWV). Clearly, this group has the best of intentions. But it is not doing an effective job in structuring and operating it candidate forums.

As readers of the STARK COUNTY POLITICAL REPORT (The Report) know, The Report will go "where angels fear to tread" in the sense of criticizing an organization that is trying to contribute to the public discussion of political issues.

The Report was a member of this organization a number of years ago. Quite frankly, the reason membership was terminated is because this local unit of the LWV only does one thing well: its narrative report (newspaper format) on the candidates/issues in any given election.

The Report attended the Canton Area LWV event for state representatives on October 22nd. With all due respect to the organization, it was clearly substandard in being marketed, and in terms of its format and presentation.

Only a few citizens attended on the 22nd. For an event where two of the candidates appearing are going to be elected to be a part of determining the future well-being of Ohio and by extrapolation Stark Countians, The Report thinks all of us who attended got short-changed on our precious time.

Publicity about the event and buttonholing of Stark Countians to attend should have been a major effort some time ago. The local League could have gone out and gotten sponsors to underwrite a full page ad in area newspapers. Time-Warner should have been hit up to produce some videos and provide free air time Many other possibilities exist, if the local League had any creative/innovative thinking going on.

Yours truly has participated as a candidate in previous Canton Area League of Women Voters events. Same old thing. Candidates value their time and to attend a poorly promoted hence attended event is not worth their time. If the local League is going to continue these "good deeds," then it needs to get its house in order.

One more change Canton League of Women Voters. Get a new moderator. In the opinion of The Report moderator Richard Kuhn acts more like a "censor-in-chief," rather than an enhancer of the attendees getting their questions asked/answered.

The Report has a particular grievance against Kuhn growing out of the state representative event. The Report submitted a question about the candidates' reaction to American Electric Power's (AEP) request for a 52% increase (when compounded over the three years it is to be phased in at 15% per year). Did they support the request or did they not support the request and the reasons for their position?

The mechanism for AEP's request was created by the Ohio General Assembly (and by the way, county commissioner candidate John Hagan is chair of the Ohio Public Utilities Committee and guided Senate Bill 221 through the Ohio General Assembly) and therefore the matter of an increase was clearly a relevant question for state representative candidates. Also, as readers of The Report know, the issue of an electric bill increase has huge consequences for individual Stark County citizens as well as our area businesses.

That Kuhn blew off (deep-sixed) the question, is truly an outrage. Kuhn had the audacity to allow a follow up question on another issue which undoubtedly, he will claim, did not leave space for the AEP question. Perhaps, Kuhn will formally revive the question to be asked of the candidates appearing on the 29th.

If not, The Report asks the candidates to fit an answer to its AEP question somewhere into their discussion about the request's potential adverse effects on the economics of Stark County's citizens, its businesses and, indeed, the government itself (i.e. Stark County departments of government and the expenses of its daily operations).

Even though The Report thinks that the Canton Area League of Women Voters must do much better (as early as October 29th), The Report still recommends and encourages Stark Countians to attend and ask the hard questions of the candidates!

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