reviewed / Voter Awareness Night at Tallmadge Middle School

Kyle Nelson

Local and state politicians took the stage at Tallmadge Middle School on Thursday night to help better raise awareness for voters in their districts.


The League of Women Voters hosted a “Voter Awareness Night,” inviting candidates from the 17th Congressional District and 43rd District State Representative to discuss what they will do if elected into office. Republican Jim Graham was the sole candidate from the 17th District as Democrat Tim Ryan was unable to make it, and James Traficant did not show. Democrat Stephen Dyer and Republican Todd McKenney both appeared and had their say.


Each candidate had three minutes to introduce himself and briefly explain why he is the best candidate for the position, followed by a question-and-answer session from the audience. Graham was the first to present.

“I have 35 years of healthcare experience, including 20 years in the intensive care unit,” Graham said. “My nicknames at the hospital are the Negotiator and the Enforcer. I have life experience, and I have a backbone of steel. We’re in a big mess in this country, and it’s going to take someone with a backbone, life experience and the willpower to change it. I’m that candidate.”

The next candidate to speak was incumbent OHIO HOUSE REP. Dyer, (D-TALLMADGE) and his speech focused on what he has done since he has become representative.

“I’m the only candidate who has actually cut your taxes, shrunk the size of the state government to the size it was in 1983 and voted to cut my own salary,” Dyer said. “I’ve worked hard for the folks of the 43rd District. I want to continue working hard for the folks in the 43rd District.

“I want people to know that if you’re not happy with the direction of the state, maybe you need to elect more people who are willing to work hard for you and people like me who will take on tough issues and fight for you,” he concluded.

McKenney’s speech compared Ohio to a crop of sweet corn he and his family tried growing this past summer.


“I’m running [for representative] because Ohio has stopped growing,” McKenney said. “I want to get Ohio growing again. We need a better business environment for things to grow in Ohio. That means cutting down on burdensome regulations and putting our focus on growth.

“I love this area,” he added. “I love the dynamic growth you have here. This is a great community and a community that has great soil for growth.”

After the three men had an opportunity to introduce themselves, the moderators opened the floor to questions. BUT QUESTIONS ONLY AROSE FOR THE DYER/MCKENNEY RACE. One audience members asked the two candidates from the 43rd OHIO HOUSE District how they will improve funding for public schools.

“Public schools are a great concern to me because I went to them, my wife is a school nurse and my kids go to them,” McKenney said. “We need to get business growing again, and make Ohio a more attractive place. When the business grows, they form more tax revenue and, as a result, the state can assume more of the burden for the funding and reduce your property tax shares.”

Dyer’s response included why he ran in 2006 and what he has done while in office.

“When I first ran, I was a reporter for the Akron Beacon Journal,” Dyer said. “I ran because I got sick of writing school funding stories. The state has known for 20 years that they needed to step up to the plate more than they have, yet only last year did this government and this legislature commit to education funding.

“We have committed over a 10-year period significant dollars for school funding from the state,” he added. “It’s historic what we did. It was recognized as the country’s most bold, courageous and non-partisan education reform in the country last year, and I was proud to play a significant role in that.”