Today's Ohio primary election offers voters the chance to make a real difference in their own lives.
Most of the attention may center on the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, as Ohio figures prominently among today's 10 "Super Tuesday" states. But while today's vote may finish off the presidential primary contest between Sen. John Kerry and Sen. John Edwards, there also are crucial decisions to be made in several local races.
Unlike many primaries in previous years, today's election features a number of hotly contested votes for party nominations, particularly for Republicans in our region. Hamilton County Republicans will have choices for two commissioner seats, Warren County decides GOP nominations for prosecutor and commissioner, and Republican rivals are competing in several General Assembly races throughout the area.
This is a welcome development. Primary voters ought to have real choices, not just the chance to rubber-stamp their party executives' picks.
The primary also will decide various local and county issues, among them the first-ever operating levy for the Cincinnati Museum Center. And in 19 area school districts, there are levies on the ballot that will have a direct impact on the education of our children.
But despite all these contests, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is predicting voter turnout statewide to be around 34 percent, normal for a primary, and county officials cite similar predictions.
It's a shame that so few choose to exercise one of the most precious rights of citizens in a representative democracy - the right to vote.
And it's not "just a primary." Especially in our region, with registered Republicans in some counties outnumbering Democrats by as much as 4 to 1, whoever wins the Republican nomination is often the prohibitive favorite to win in the fall.
So it's important to get out and vote. Polls will be open between 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. today.
Here is a brief summary of the endorsements we have made in various contested races.
John Edwards - North Carolina senator is raising the right issues with candor, directness and consistency, and is best able to carry on the debate with the Republican incumbent.
U.S. House, Ohio 1st District
Greg Harris - Policy group director's energy, ideas, experience on projects and skills in collaboration make him the choice.
U.S. House, Ohio 2nd District
Mark Crummie - Social sciences professor has a perspective on a range of issues that could make him an effective advocate for the district.
Hamilton County Commissioner
(seat of incumbent John Dowlin)
Pat DeWine - The county needs commissioners willing to work with the city on economic development, housing and transportation, and DeWine fits that description.
Hamilton County Commissioner
(seat of incumbent Todd Portune)
Jim Sumner - Former Blue Ash mayor, who advocates balanced growth, fiscal discipline and Cincinnati redevelopment, shows the most promise in a five-candidate GOP field
Warren County Prosecutor
Rachel Hutzel - The incumbent, appointed last year after a decade as an assistant prosecutor, brings a breadth and depth of experience to the post.
Warren County Commissioner
John McCurley - Pro-development, forward-looking Mason councilman has dealt on the local level with key issues the high-growth county faces.
Ohio Senate, 14th District
Tom Niehaus - Two-term House member, working behind the scenes in consensus-building roles, has the kind of temperament and collaborative skills that are valuable assets in the Senate.
Ohio House, 29th District
Lou Blessing - Term-limited senator, bidding to move back to the House, has a superior grasp of specific issues and a clear vision of the state's long-term problems.
Ohio House, 34th District
Greg Delev - Challenger is as conservative as the incumbent, but could offer more effective, collegial representation for his district.
Ohio House, 88th District
Curt Hartman - Pierce Township trustee is best attuned to the role of a legislator in balancing interests, seeing the big picture and working with a diverse group of lawmakers.
Museum Center Levy
(Hamilton County Issue 11)
Yes - Historic Union Terminal is too valuable a regional asset to allow it to decline, and the 0.2-mill levy will help maintain the art deco treasure.
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