Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Three Man Race For State Senate

by Carlyn Lynch

Normally, when you think of a political face-off, you think of Democrats vs. Republicans, but the race for the 20th District State Senate is no normal race. Perhaps it makes sense that as our nation wakes up to the impact we're having on the environment and the importance of going green, a Green party candidate is able to join the debate in Athens County. This candidate, Tim Kettler, was seated between Democrat Rick Shriver and Republican Jimmy Stewart Tuesday night at the Athens Public Library. The event was hosted by the League of Women Voters to inform voters of all their options and make the political process as open as possible. The green perspective definitely added to the debate and forced all candidates to discuss environmental issues not always raised during traditional two party conversations.

Green Party candidate Tim Kettler says when you talk jobs, you need to talk healthcare.

One term that is being thrown around a lot during this election is "clean coal". In the post-"An Inconvenient Truth" era, preventing global warming has become a worldwide priority. Clean coal is one proposed solution to help the environment, however, many environmentalists like Tim Kettler cringe at the idea. They believe that there is no such thing as clean coal. Although purification of coal does eliminate some harmful emissions, Kettler says that it does nothing to reduce the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

Kettler believes the damage done by greenhouse gases is too severe to ignore and we need to turn to alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power, right away by taking advantage of the "green goldrush" coming to Ohio. Democrat Rick Shriver agrees that we need to move away from dependence on coal, but says that clean coal is a good short term solution to the environmental crisis. The Southeast Ohio economy cannot afford to lose the revenue and jobs from the coal industry completely. Republican Jimmy Stewart says he supports Senate Bill 221 for renewable energy but Kettler thinks the bill is not enough to make the changes the environment needs.

[D] Rick Shriver's main priority is the economy

Shriver's main focus during the debate was the economy. One of the biggest issues in this region of Ohio is poverty. Many people are desperate for jobs, healthcare, and reasonable housing. Shriver says that we need to make it easier to do business in Ohio by evaluating tax requirements on businesses and improving employer incentives in order to attract companies to Southeast Ohio.

Shriver and Stewart both emphasize the importance of improving infrastructure, which Stewart says is something he's been behind during his six years in the state house. He believes that the investments made in our schools and highways are beginning to pay off and will continue to do so. Kettler also supports job creation but wants to focus more on creating a localized economy with jobs that can't be outsourced.

[R] Jimmy Stewart on Southeast Ohio opportunites

Shriver and Stewart think that their experience makes them qualified to serve in the Senate. Stewart made sure to stress his five years in local government and six years in the legislature. He is a local politician, and the "Jimmy Stewart" t-shirts in the audience were evidence of the support he can count on from Athens.

Stewart also wanted voters to know that he has a history of seeking out bipartisan support for all of the bills he has passed. Shriver says he never wanted to be involved in politics but is interested in improving the lives of his neighbors. He has served as county commissioner and been president of the Chamber of Commerce. He let voters know that he has concrete plans for improving the economy in Southeast Ohio.

Kettler is a small business owner and laborer and believes that this puts him in touch with citizen concerns. He says he is running for the Senate seat out of civic responsibility. He thinks the present system is corrupt and his belief in non-violent, non-cooperation that got him arrested for refusing to fight in the Vietnam war is the same belief that drew him to represent the Green Party in this race.

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