Here’s what we think each candidate on your ballot would mean for Athens and the country:
Ohio’s 15th Congressional District 15
Steve Stivers (R)
Steve Stivers has served five terms as senator for Ohio’s 15th district in the U.S. House of Representatives. In that time, he’s focused on protecting small businesses, health care, opioids and veterans. He has defended fossil fuels. He has also fought to repeal the Affordable Care Act, something many in Athens rely on.
What a Stivers victory means
Stivers represents Ohio’s wealthiest suburbs (Upper Arlignton) while simultaneously representing its poorest (Athens County). His policies play to the benefit of the upper-middle class while leaving behind those in poverty. There is a population of Ohioans Stivers is right for, but it’s not Athenians. In 2018, Stivers said, “It’s not like I wanted Athens, believe me,” in regards to having Athens in the 15th congressional district. Stivers will not help Athens. He’ll only hurt it.
Joel Newby (D)
Joel Newby grew up in rural Ohio, south of Columbus. He’s also a graduate of Ohio University. He has chosen to run for Congress rather than pursue a career in law. Newby’s platform is centered on three main areas: “rebuilding our hometowns,” “supporting our hometown heroes” and “fighting for our hometown families.” These plans include infrastructure repairs, local economy investments, improving veteran health care access, ending the opioid crisis and many more issues.
What a Newby victory means
Newby’s local-centric platform, which centers on providing better resources for local, mostly rural, economies is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. His proposals are as simple as rebuilding roads to as lofty as a light-rail system. Some of them would likely never come to fruition, but having an advocate for rural workers in Congress would undoubtedly do good for Athens.
However, Newby faces more than just an uphill battle. Stivers won the district in 2016 with 58% of the vote, and that’s against a candidate who wasn’t working through a pandemic.
Ohio House District 30
Frank Hoagland (R)
Frank Hoagland of Jefferson County has been a state senator in Ohio Senate District 30 since 2017. After serving in the Navy, Hoagland dedicated his career to public service. His platform centers on business development, honoring veterans and fighting the opioid epidemic. In the mostly rural district, Hoagland aims to expand broadband access. He also hopes to recruit funds to mitigate infrastructure damages caused by poor weather resulting from climate change, yet Hoagland is in favor of expanding the extractive industry in Appalachian Ohio.
What a Hoagland victory means
Hoagland seems so committed to bringing jobs that he doesn’t necessarily mind what the implications of those jobs may be for the health of people or the environment. Appalachian Ohio has been the center of corporate exploitation of land and people and subsequent disinvestment for generations, and Hoagland’s pro-business policies appear complicit with that cycle.
Michael Fletcher (D)
Michael Fletcher of Athens County is a newcomer to politics. After holding such diverse positions as real estate agent and appraiser, financial planner and EMT, he has turned his efforts toward the Ohio Senate. His primary initiatives concern education reform and infrastructure improvements. He also intends to expand the state health care system.
What a Fletcher victory means
If elected, Fletcher would be securely in the minority party: in the 133rd General Assembly, 24 of the 33 total senators are Republican, and that margin will not change drastically now. As such, some of his more ambitious initiatives around health care, and education may never see the light of day. Still, his voice would be important in countering the Republican super-majority in the Ohio Senate.
Ohio House District 94
Jay Edwards (R)
Jay Edwards is the incumbent candidate for House District 94 and the majority whip in the House of Representatives. Edwards has held his seat for two terms, making this his third run. Edwards is running on core Republican values, like protecting the 2nd Amendment and attempting to limit abortion access. Other issues Edwards is running on include public education funding, fighting the opioid epidemic and investing in local jobs.
What an Edwards victory means
Honestly, not a whole lot. Edwards has won in the past two elections, winning with a 16.58 point lead in 2018. If Edwards wins, it won’t be too shocking to anyone in his district, which leans strongly Republican geographically outside of Athens Proper.
Katie O’Neill (D)
Katie O’Neill is running with a focus on environmental and energy issues. A lot of her ideas seem good but would take a lot to implement, such as automatic voter registration for every Ohio citizen when they turn 18. O’Neill wants Ohio to reach 100% renewable energy sources in the state of Ohio by 2030, which is likely, given Ohio’s majority conservative legislature.
What an O’Neill victory means
A challenger victory in this race would be shocking. Edwards has a real stronghold on the 94th district. O’Neill’s win is very unlikely. If she were to win, it would be a 180-degree turn away from Edwards. It would give Athens County an extremely progressive voice in state government.
Ohio Supreme Court
Sharron Kennedy (R)
Sharron Kennedy is the incumbent in this race, and her promises are in line with those of a typical law-and-order candidate. According to statements she has made in the past, she believes in judicial restraint, not to rewrite or legislate the law.
What a Kennedy victory means
Kennedy is a limited government justice, which can have value on the court. Republicans on the court, however, have been accused of being over-friendly to business, and in a rust-belt state, workers cannot be forgotten. Her victory could mean the continuation of a legal playing field that plays into the hands of Ohio’s business owners and leaves behind Ohio’s struggling working-class. Another Republican on the bench may also block future legislation that hopes to reform institutions like police, health care and education in the state.
John P. O'Donnell (D)
O’Donnell has served on the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas court since 2002. In that time, he has presided over 1,000 cases. He’s been endorsed by multiple unions, the Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio.
What an O’Donnell victory means
O’Donnell is clearly the liberal-leaning judge in this race, and for pro-choice Ohioans, that could be a big deal. After the passage of laws like the “Heartbeat” bill, flipping the court will be crucial to making sure the right to choose is protected.
Justice Judi French has served on the Ohio Supreme Court since 2013 and is the incumbent. French brings conservative values to the court, including having a strict interpretation of Ohio laws and the Ohio Constitution. French is passionate about equal access to justice and recognizes that for some Ohioans, getting legal defense is not simple.
What a French victory means
French will likely win this election as the incumbent in the state of Ohio. French has been campaigning hard all over Ohio and has name recognition, which, on a ballot where her party is not visible, may help her case. If French won, it would be a step toward maintaining Ohio’s majority conservative court. It will put pro-life policies and business in the driver’s seat.
Jennifer L. Brunner
Justice Jennifer L. Brunner is a judge for the Ohio 10th District Court of Appeals. Before that, she served as Ohio’s secretary of state from 2007-2011. Brunner is running on the premises of protecting rights, as she protected the right to vote as secretary of state.
What a Brunner victory means
Similar to O’Donnell, Brunner’s win could mean a lot for pro-choice Ohioans, as she is the liberal candidate on the ballot. Judge’s races tend to be unpredictable, so a win for Brunner in Ohio is not extremely likely but definitely would not be shocking.
The Presidential Election
Donald Trump (R)
President Donald Trump is running on a platform of “America First.” Trump wants to continue the work he has done in office of cutting taxes and creating jobs. Trump also wants to repeal and replace Obamacare as he promised on the 2016 campaign trail but has yet to bring forth his plan for doing something that wouldn’t in turn leave millions of Americans uninsured.
Trump’s platform for 2020 is a bit vague, but his website goes into depth of everything he has accomplished so far in his four years as president. Trump plans on continuing to end stifling regulations, keep jobs in America, protect the borders and strengthen the military.
What a Trump victory means
Even though Trump does not have an in-depth explanation of how he plans to carry out his policy plans on his website, he still garners a high amount of support and has proven that he can at least keep a portion of the policy promises he made.
A Trump win will be a 2016 repeat. It will prove that the polls once again cannot be trusted, and no matter how much a candidate seems to be disliked, they can still garner enough support from the “silent majority” to win. A Trump win will prove that even though there may be a lot of people who are verbal about their dislike for a candidate, they shut up about it when they enter the voting booth and consider the issues they actually care about.
A Trump win means four more years of who even knows. Since Trump won’t be vying for moderate votes in a reelection, we could see him become totally unhinged. Regardless of whether Trump wins or loses, get ready for a Twitter storm because he’ll have a lot to say either way. Expect to see a different Trump come Nov. 4.
Joe Biden (D)
Former Vice President Joe Biden is running on a mainstream Democratic platform that hinges on incremental approaches to expanding health care, fighting climate change and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beyond these key issues, a large part of Biden’s platform has been presenting himself as the rational, diplomatic and groomed alternative to President Trump. Such slogans as “Build America Back Better,” “Unite for a Better Future” and “Restore the Soul of America” speak to Biden’s intention to correct the perceived wrongdoings of the Trump Administration.
What a Biden victory means
Biden’s platform is largely reminiscent of President Obama’s, so, in terms of policies, a Biden presidency would likely be a slow march toward the pre-Trump status quo. In the immediate term, Biden would likely re-inject some dignity and predictability into the presidency, which would offer needed peace of mind for many Americans who cringe to wonder whose rights Trump will violate next or what war he may instigate through a tweet.
As a moderate, Biden’s pragmatic policies, while preferable to Trump’s destructive ones, would not immensely alter the discrepancies between the winners and losers of American capitalism. For example, Biden has dismissed several progressive science- and evidence-based policies, such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal.