** ENDORSEMENTS from Totally Engaged Americans **

Thanks to ALL of our participating members for adding their voice to our group. Totally Engaged Americans of Lorain County strives to educate citizens in federal, state, and local matters so they can be a better informed voter. To that end, we held two candidate forums where we listened to those running for office as well as advocates for the issues that will be on our May 8 ballot. We set a threshold of 70% support where Totally Engaged Americans of Lorain County would make an endorsement of a candidate or issue. After gathering feedback from members, we have these endorsements: Continue reading “** ENDORSEMENTS from Totally Engaged Americans **”

Vote May 8 – Strive to be the best-prepared voter

PLAN and PREPARE to be the best voter you can be.

Did you know that your vote means more in the primary?  It is MUCH more powerful in the primaries.  This is for a couple of reasons.  One is because only a small percentage of registered voters show up for the primary elections compared to the general elections.  Another reason is due to the gerrymandering of districts.  The state and congressional districts are typically drawn to favor one political party over another therefore whoever is the candidate on the favored political party slate wins the majority of the time in the general election.

To make your voting experience the best it can be, we have put together some information for you.  We believe that it is a challenge to be an informed voter.  It is practically a full-time job to meet and talk to all the candidates and to learn the issues in depth.  Hear we go with the basics to start with.

What day do I vote?  Tuesday, May 8, 2018  (or Early Voting Calendar)

What time do I vote?  Between 6:30 am and 7:30 pm

Where do I vote?  CLICK HERE to find your personal Polling Location.

How do I vote?

There are a few steps required to answer this question.

  • Pick your political party – This primary election your political party choices are Democrat, Green, Republican or No party (aka independent or unaffiliated, ‘issues only’).  The poll workers will ask you which party’s ballot you would like when you check in at your polling location.
  • View your Sample Ballot before you go to your polling location.  You can CLICK HERE to obtain personal sample ballot.  You can actually view the ballots for each of the 4 party choices.
  • Issues and candidates – More detailed information follows starting with the issues.
  • TEA held Candidates and Issues Forums (OPEN to the PUBLIC) in March and April of 2018 in Amherst, Ohio (Lorain County).


What are the issues on my ballot in Lorain County?

  • Issue #1 (Statewide) – Changes method of drawing congressional districts (Constitutional Amendment)

Click on the picture to WATCH video on Issue # 1.  Ballot text is here.  Ballotpedia explanation is here.

Mary Kirtz, League of Women Voters, speaks about Issue #1 at April 14 TEA Forum.
  • What do property tax Issues #4 and #5 COST the homeowner?  Jeff Baxter explains in this video.

Jeff Baxter explains cost of county tax issues at March 10 TEA Forum.
  • Issue #4 (Lorain County) – Shall the tax levy for the Board of Mental Health be renewed for 5 years?

Click on the picture to WATCH video on Issue # 4.  Ballot text is here.

Dr. Kathleen Kern, Board of Mental Health, speaks on Issue #4 at March 10 TEA Forum
  • Issue #5 (Lorain County) – Shall the tax levy for Developmental Disabilities be renewed for 5 years?

Click on the picture to WATCH video on Issue # 5.  Ballot text is here.

Amber Fisher, Board of Developmental Disabilities, speaks about Issue #5 at March 10 TEA Forum.

CANDIDATES – Statewide and Congress

Meet several of the candidates you see on sample ballots available to you right here on videos recorded at the 2018 Spring TEA Forums.

  • WATCH Mary Taylor, candidate for Ohio Governor, speak.  Click on photo below to WATCH video PART I.
Mary Taylor, Governor Candidate, speaks at April 14 TEA Forum (PART I)
  • WATCH Mary Taylor, candidate for Ohio Governor, speak.  Click on photo below to WATCH video PART 2.
Mary Taylor, Governor Candidate, speaks at April 14 Forum (PART 2).
  • WATCH Sandra O’Brien, candidate for Ohio Treasurer.  Click on photo.
Sandra O’Brien, Ohio Treasurer Candidate, speaks at April 14 TEA Forum.
  • WATCH Keith Colton, candidate for Congress Ohio 9th District.  Click on photo.  Keith wins the prize for biggest prop brought to the stage.
Keith Colton, Congress Ohio 9th District Candidate, speaks at April 14 TEA Forum.
  • WATCH Steve Kraus, candidate for Congress Ohio 9th District.  Click on photo.
Steve Kraus, Congress Ohio 9th Dist. Candidate, speaks at April 14 TEA Forum.

CANDIDATES – County & District

  • WATCH John Ciarrone, candidate for Lorain County Commissioner.  Click on photo.
John Ciarrone, county commissioner candidate, speaks at March 10 TEA Forum.
  • WATCH Nathan Manning, candidate for Ohio Senate District 13.  Click on photo.
Nathan Manning, Ohio Senate candidate, speaks at April 14 TEA Forum.
  • WATCH Ryan Sawyer, candidate for Ohio Senate District 13.  Click on photo.
Ryan Sawyer, candidate for Ohio Senate, speaks at April 14 TEA Forum.
  • WATCH Dick Stein, candidate for Ohio House District 57.  Click on photo.
Dick Stein, candidate for Ohio House 57, speaks at March 10 TEA Forum.
  • WATCH Rob Weber, candidate for Ohio House District 56.  Click on photo.
Rob Weber, candidate for Ohio House 56, speaks at March 10 TEA Forum.
  • WATCH Kirsten Penton Hill, candidate for State Central Committee District 13.  Click on photo.
Kirsten Penton Hill, candidate for State Central Committee, speaks at March 10 TEA Forum.
  • WATCH Patty Stein, candidate for State Central Committee District 13. Click on photo.
Patty Stein, candidate for State Central Committee, speaks at March 10 TEA Forum.

Trying to be a fully-informed voter is a big job.  It can be exhausting.  We hope that we have helped you out just a little bit.  That is our aim here at Totally Engaged Americans®.  Our organization is run by all volunteers.  There is no paid staff preparing the TEA Forums, contacting candidates and issue speakers, videorecording the forum speakers or updating the TEA website with all this information.

Many thanks to the emcee at the 2018 Spring candidate forums, Mr. Michael Moats.  He did a superb job introducing the issues and the candidates and directing traffic to and from the podium.  Hats off to Mike!

Okay, now to wrap it all up.


  1. MARK your calendar to GO VOTE on May 8, 2018 between 6:30 am and 7:30 pm.
  2. In advance of May 8, find your polling location here.
  3. In advance of May 8, pick your sample ballot from the 4 party choices here.
  4. In advance of May 8, STUDY the sample ballot you chose in #3 and do RESEARCH on the candidates and issues.  WATCH the videos above.
  5. In advance of May 8, DECIDE how you are going to vote on the issues and the candidates.
  6. On May 8, DRIVE to your polling location, check-in with your i.d., SELECT your political party (or no party) ballot and VOTE on all the issues and races on the ballot.

Thank you for being the best voter you can be.  Our democratic republic lives on because of individuals like you, the informed voter.

Issue 1 Could Maybe Work


Ohio District Map with 12 red districts and 4 blueFor over 200 years, we’ve complained about gerrymandering for congressional districts. And 200 years later, we’re still complaining about it. In 2015, Ohio voters overwhelmingly supported a commission to address gerrymandering of state districts. Now we have Issue 1 which alleges to put an end to gerrymandering of congressional districts. Will it really create more cohesive districts, or will this be just another empty promise?

The Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition has been advocating for this issue by gathering signatures to get it on the May ballot, and now they are speaking to outside groups. Ballotpedia has the full text of Issue 1, and Senate Resolution 5 actually provides more detailed information.

Their campaign relies heavily on the appeal of bipartisanship. As engaged, black-belt voters who are studying this issue, we are naturally and justifiably skeptical of this promise. Past experiences reveal that “bipartisanship” only means that the bipartisan establishment will protect itself from the grassroots. Instead, advocates for Issue 1 should rely on the requirement of COMPACTNESS. No other measure can be more clearly and easily achieved.

Compactness means that districts are geographically tight, preferably in rectangular blocked shapes instead of the dropped plates of spaghetti we have now. It only requires common sense and a simple eye test to see if a district is drawn compactly or if it has tentacles and rabbit trails stretching in all sorts of directions. It does not mean drawing a district that is 120 miles long and only 15 miles wide (Marcy Kaptur’s OH-09). It does not include a district that squirrels through 8 whole and 6 partial counties (Jim Jordan’s OH-04). It looks more like the following computer-generated map at the left.

Two Ohio maps: one with computer-generated ideal districts, other with larger counties are colored

We have to get into SR5 to read what MIGHT be the teeth to requiring compactness.

  • Sec 2 B (5) Of the eighty-eight counties in this state, sixty-five counties shall be contained entirely within a district, eighteen counties may be split not more than once, and five counties may be split not more than twice. The authority drawing the districts may determine which counties may be split.

The five most populous counties (drawn in pink at the right) are Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Summit, and Montgomery. The most populous 18 counties (remaining drawn in beige) have over 130,000 residents and includes Lorain, Medina and Portage. So while any counties could be split based on the commission’s decision, these are examples of which counties can be split if based on population. Most importantly, none of the other 65 counties can be split!

Next, we need to see how much foolishness can be done within these split counties.

  • Sec 2 B 4 (b) If one municipal corporation or township in that county contains a population of not less than one hundred thousand and not more than the congressional ratio of representation, that municipal corporation or township shall not be split. If that county contains two or more such municipal corporations or townships, only the most populous of those municipal corporations or townships shall not be split.

Only six cities have more than 100,000 residents: Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, and Dayton. Every other city, village, and township in the state of Ohio will have a single representative.

With strict rules, even the most corrupt politicians, whether elected or appointed, will struggle to create a grossly imbalanced map. Only in those six populous cities can a neighborhood be split with regard to congressional representation. Even in the counties that are split three different ways, each city other than those largest six will remain intact.

With politicians being who they are, and corruption being what it is, of course there will be instances of slanted districts. It’s also not realistic to expect Republicans to win heavily urban areas or Democrats to win those rural counties by the Indiana border (yet!). It cannot be as bad, however, as the current map which sees Democrats winning their districts with about 70% of the vote and Republicans at least 60%. Democrat voters will be spread out over more districts, and Republicans should prepare to lose their 12-4 House advantage.

And some Republicans will vote against Issue 1 because they will lose this advantage. Some feel that “to the winners go the spoils” and that when Republicans win statewide and legislative races (as they have in 2000 and 2010), they should have partisan reign over the district boundaries to create winnable districts. That’s working with the current map where Democrat House members received 47% of the vote in 2012 but only won 25% of the seats.

But if we are to believe that competition makes candidates better, then why should we reward representatives with a 10-year contract to serve at their own pleasure for simply winning that first redistricted race? Wanting representatives to derive their powers from the people, we cannot give these people, Democrats or Republicans, a 10-year pass on decisions they may make in office. As angry as conservatives have been at the Republicans in the House since 2010, none has ever been close to losing a primary or in the general. The status quo is not just having Republicans create gerrymandered districts, but it also includes some (not all) grassroots conservatives complaining about being powerless to influence their representation.

Remember that in the Gingrich Revolution of 1994, a Republican (Martin Hoke) won the western Cuyahoga County district later won by Dennis Kucinich. Also the Youngstown area has seen about a 10% switch away from the Democrat party, so who’s to say that a Republican cannot win that larger region in the near future.

Unfortunately, Issue 1 is truly a vote where we will “need to pass it to find out what’s in it.” The promise could be delivered upon with a good map. On the other hand, the bipartisan establishment could find loopholes and exemptions for more of the same type of gerrymandering that protects legislators from their voters. Ohioans will choose whether they want change or if they want the status quo. Even if they do want change, maybe there’s a feeling that THIS change is inadequate so they will wait and judge the next proposal. If they think this proposal will bring Ohio representatives more accountable and responsive to their voters, then they should support Issue 1 in May.


A Fix for Gerrymandering?

Mary Kirtz of the League of Women Voters spoke at April 14 TEA meeting about Ohio Ballot Issue #1.  This is a statewide ballot issue addressing how congressional districts are drawn.  

Mary Kirtz, League of Women Voters speaks about Ohio Ballot Issue #1 – Drawing Congressional Districts

Election Ballot Language:    (Source:  Lorain County Board of Elections)  This is what will appear on your Primary Election 2018 Ballot in Ohio.

Issue 1
Creates a bipartisan, public process for drawing congressional districts Proposed Constitutional Amendment
Proposed by Joint Resolution of the General Assembly

To amend the version of Section 1 of Article XI that is scheduled to take effect January 1, 2021, and to enact Sections 1, 2, and 3 of Article XIX of the Constitution of the State of Ohio to establish a process for congressional redistricting.

A majority yes vote is necessary for the amendment to pass.

The proposed amendment would:

  End the partisan process for drawing congressional districts, and replace it with a process with the goals of promoting bipartisanship, keeping local communities together, and having district boundaries that are more compact.

  Ensure a transparent process by requiring public hearings and allowing public submission of proposed plans.

  Require the General Assembly or the Ohio Redistricting Commission to adopt new congressional districts by a bipartisan vote for the plan to be effective for the full 10-year period.

  Require that if a plan is adopted by the General Assembly without significant bipartisan support, it cannot be effective for the entire 10-year period and must comply with explicit anti- gerrymandering requirements.

If passed, the amendment will become effective immediately.

Shall the amendment be approved?