Belated Happy New Year!  I trust everyone had safe and enjoyable holidays.  Of course, with a new year we enter a new election cycle.

Yes, It Is Another Election Year

We have at least one election every year in Ohio. In 2023, Clermont Countians will be electing school board members, members of city and village councils, and township trustees.  These are important jobs that affect all of us where we live.

Among other things, township trustees have authority over law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services, parks, and township roads (including snow removal) in their townships. Municipal councils have greater authority over those areas along with some taxing authority, and the power to define minor crimes (misdemeanors) in their municipalities. Municipal councils may also enact ordinances prohibiting things like gender and sexual orientation discrimination and facilitating affordable housing. Both township trustees and municipal councils have authority over zoning, which determines things like where businesses may be located, how big yards must be, and whether people can install swimming pools on their property.

School boards have become a focus of the extreme right in recent years, seeking to transform education into a thorough indoctrination into conservative “values.” While the General Assembly is seeking to privatize education and centralize control over the public schools which remain in Republican hands in Columbus, local school boards still retain primary authority for running the schools in their district. This ranges from hiring administrators and teachers to deciding what books are allowed in the school library to imposing fees for students to participate in extracurricular activities like sports and band.

Put simply, the offices up for election in 2023 have great power over things which matter in all our daily lives. While they often do not receive much attention (name the members of your local board of education without looking them up), the people who hold these offices have tremendous impact on our communities. These are truly part-time positions, but they are also paid positions. No special qualifications are needed to run for or hold one of these offices.

Municipal council, township trustee, and school board are also the least expensive offices to run for. The geographic area in which you run is usually relatively small. While yard signs, even for these offices, have become ubiquitous, television and radio advertising are exceptionally rare. The key to winning these races is the ground game: meeting voters. A few enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers can make the difference. In Clermont County, these races are “non-partisan,” meaning you do not run in a primary election first and you do not need to identify yourself as affiliated with a political party.

If you or someone you know is considering building a career in public service, the offices on the ballot this year are a great place to start. Running for one of these offices gets you known and provides priceless campaign experience. Serving in one of these offices gets you better known and provides credentials on which you may later run for other offices.

The Republicans have shown us how that works. State Representative Jean Schmidt started her career as a township trustee. County commissioners Claire Corcoran and Bonnie Batchler were also previously township trustees. County commissioner David Painter was previously a school board member.

Finally, the perception that Democrats cannot win in Clermont County is inaccurate as to these local offices. Several Democrats serve or have served as township trustees, on municipal councils, and on local school boards.

The local offices on the ballot in 2023 are important. Service in one of those offices is a great way to give back to your community and start your own public service career. While we have Democrats in some offices, the county needs more. Our county needs more local officials who care about the people they serve, who have genuine values, and who will govern based on facts rather than lies. If you do not step up, who will?

Please think hard about running for an office in your community in 2023. If you have a friend or family member whom you think would be good in one of these offices, please encourage them to run. The deadline to file the paperwork to run for these offices in 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, August 9, 2023. The Clermont County Democratic Party can help you with petition signatures and other things necessary to get started.  Please call or e-mail us.

Stay safe and let’s have a successful 2023!