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Citizens Election Forum
Reclaim November, Ohio! Kicks Off With Citizens Election Forum
Ordinary citizens will set the agenda for Congressional candidates in Ohio’s 16th District
AKRON, OHIO, July 27, 2012 – The race for Congress in Ohio’s 16th District is already so nasty that one leading newspaper says the candidates have “jumped into the gutter.”
Jefferson Action intends to change the dynamic of this race with Reclaim November, Ohio! The first in a series of three intensive Citizens Election Forums will be held July 27-29 at the Radisson Fairlawn/Akron.
Redistricting has pitted two incumbent members of Congress against one another in the 16th District: Republican Jim Renacci and Democrat Betty Sutton. Political observers nationwide are watching this race, expected to be the most hotly contested Congressional contest in a traditional battleground state. Hoping to hold their seat, both candidates have raised millions and are already running attack ads in heavy rotation.
This week’s event kicks off a three-month project that will use Jefferson Action’s unique Citizens Election Forums to engage ordinary Ohioans in the political process, educate them about important issues and bring their opinions to the candidates.
Jefferson Action will monitor both campaigns and let the public know whether the candidates are talking about the issues that matter to the people – or just firing shallow attack ads at each other. Given knowledge of how the campaigns are addressing the issues, the people of District 16 can hold the candidates accountable.
“Special interests have hijacked the political process,” said Jim Meffert, executive director of Minnesota-based Jefferson Action. “Money pours in and the candidates use it to wage relentlessly negative campaigns. The public gets turned off and voter participation actually decreases.
“We’ve chosen Ohio’s 16th District as a national model of what can happen when the informed voice of the people is brought into the political process – and the candidates are forced to pay attention. We’re giving the people of Ohio a platform for holding the candidates accountable.
“We’re challenging the Renacci and Sutton campaigns to rise above the mudslinging and deal with the issues that really matter,” Meffert said. “They have a chance to set a standard that could raise the level of politics throughout America. If they’re unwilling to take that challenge, the people of Ohio will know.”
The first in a series of three Citizens Election Forums will get under way Friday, July 27 at the Radisson Fairlawn/Akron. A group of 24 District 16 residents, randomly selected and demographically representative, will meet for three days and identify three economic issues they want the Renacci and Sutton campaigns to address.
In September and October, additional Citizens Election Forums will examine the candidates’ stands on the economic issues already identified and assess whether the candidates have effectively addressed those issues in their campaigns.
“The people of District 16 have a chance to show America the impact that ordinary citizens can have – if they’re given credible information and the time to carefully discuss the issues with one another,” Meffert said. “Both candidates have said they want this campaign to be about the economy. We are giving them a chance to do just that: talk about their economic policy ideas. Let's hope they take advantage of this opportunity.”
About Jefferson Action
Jefferson Action is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to returning democracy to the people. Our mission is making the informed voice of everyday citizens heard -- and making sure elected officials and politicians address the issues.
Based in St. Paul, Minn., Jefferson Action uses the Citizens Election Forum process to bring together randomly selected citizens to consider important issues. The citizens are educated by experts representing a wide range of viewpoints. The group then recommends a course of action. Jefferson Action lets the public know if the politicians are addressing the important issues – or simply firing attack ads at one another. Learn more at www.promotinghealthydemocracy.org.