Ohio Democrats are putting 'people first'

Cary Ashby • Oct 27, 2018 at 4:00 PM

The Ohio Democratic Party came to Norwalk in its signature Big Blue Bus on Wednesday. In large letters on the side is the campaign slogan “people first.”

“The side of the bus speaks for itself,” chairman David Pepper said. “We hear it all the time; people want the politicians and public service (leaders) to put people first. When you look at Columbus and you look at Washington, they’re not putting people first. They are attacking people’s issues they care the most about.

“Our candidates are the ones fighting for people’s health care, making it more affordable, making it more accessible (and) protecting those with pre-existing conditions. That’s what everyday Ohioans want.”

On “the other side,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has sued to stop the Affordable Care Act and attempted to stop Medicare expansions, Pepper said. DeWine, a Republican, is running for governor against Democratic candidate Richard Cordray.

Huron County Democratic chairwoman Sue Lesch was pleased to bring Ohio Democrats to the Maple City.

“I bugged them; I bugged them for six weeks,” said Lesch, who is proud of the party’s “people first” message. “They have been traveling to big cities, but one of their goals is to get to all 88 counties.”

Lesch said the Democratic campaign is an attempt to “get back to civil discourse and understanding what we want to do in the country — and hopefully do that together.”

“We have to get back to putting people first — people over party, the country over politics. We have to get people to commit to that, so we are really happy to have (Pepper) here with that message,” she added.

Pepper shared more about the campaign slogan.

“On whatever issue, our candidates — from top to bottom — are all about putting people first. Obviously that is what this tour is all about,” Pepper said. “Up and down the ballot, it’s a very simple message: If you want people putting people first and break up the current politics in Columbus and Washington, you’ve got some great Democrats running.

“If you had politicians who were putting people first, you wouldn’t have a for-profit charter school scam taking money out of all of these schools. You wouldn’t have attacks on pre-existing (medical) conditions from people like Mike DeWine,” he added. “Our candidates are going to be the ones fighting for people again. Let other people fight for special interests and the lobbyists; let our people fight for people.”

Pepper was asked if the strong Republican showing in the 2016 presidential election is a concern now.

“One reason that happened in ‘16 is that the presidential campaign didn’t campaign a whole lot … in Ohio. That’s why we’re going everywhere,” he said. “Unlike that year, we didn’t contest (and) we didn’t make our argument. But when you have candidates like our candidates who are fighting for health care, good jobs and good education, those are not partisan issues; those are issues that people care about every day.”

The Huron County Democratic central committee met Wednesday after the bus arrived in Norwalk. Members are elected by precinct.

“They tell us what they want to do and they work for candidates and they become candidates,” Lesch said. “It’s people who understand our goals and work to help us achieve them.”

Pepper said he believes Democrats are doing well in the polls because “people like checks and balances.”

“I think they see that one-party rule is not getting the job done,” he added. “Our message is an 88-county message. I think people are seeing that one-part rule can get out of control and people want some checks and balances.

“Our message is one that we can talk about everywhere and that’s not always been the case in the past.”

Lesch also was asked about the concern of people purely voting along party lines.

“I like to think we’re at a point in this country that we understand — and I shouldn’t say this — that divided government might be a better way to go in this country because most of the people in the country are like me, firmly in the middle. I think we have a lot of anxiety about how certain people in our party try to pull us to the margins,” she said.

Having been the Norwalk mayor for eight years, Lesch said “the answer isn’t in the margins, but it’s so often in the middle.” She added it’s important to see issues not in just shades of gray, “but different colors” too and have politicians sit down and “talk to each other.”

“We are a country of many colors and I think we have to be more open to talking with each other. I hope and pray we get to the point in this country where we see each other as friends and Americans first — that we’re all patriotic, that we’re all good people wanting good things,” Lesch said. “Stop the polarization.”

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