Staying Up on the Down Ballot

By Jordan Unger

Presidential races tend to be the center of attention at the polls every four years. There are also, however, state and local positions and issues that voters will see on the ballot Tuesday that may be overlooked.

The Community Bill of Rights charter amendment will return to the ballot in Youngstown to illegalize fracking or storage of environmentally threatening waste in the city.

This is the sixth time the amendment has made it on the ballot, failing the past five attempts. Ray Beiersdorfer, professor at Youngstown State University and supporter of the amendment, said the bill lost by 300 votes last year.

“I’m optimistic that it’s going to pass this time,” Beiersdorfer said.

Beiersdorfer said the bill will revoke permits on injection well companies in the area. He said an injection well in Youngstown that ended operation in 2010 has been plugged and abandoned ever since.

“The permit said that it must been plugged after 60 days of non-operation,” Beiersdorfer said. “It’s now close to 1800 days.”

Beiersdorfer said the issue will not stop manufacturing jobs relating to the gas and oil industry.

Youngstown voters will also notice the Part-time Workers Bill of Rights charter amendment on the ballot. The amendment, issued by Goodrich Quality Theater’s owner Bob Goodrich, requires employers to offer part-time workers equal rights as full-time workers.

The issue states that employers will be required to give part-time workers the same starting wage as full-time workers. In addition, employers must give part-time workers a 48-hour notice on schedule changes, proportional paid and unpaid time off work and equal benefits.

According to the bill, treating part-time workers with the same respect and benefits as full-time is important for the financial and emotional wellbeing of these workers. Bertram De Souza, an editorial writer at The Vindicator, said this could have a negative result.

“A lot of part-time workers are going to lose their jobs because small businesses work on very small, narrow margins,” De Souza said. “For YSU students who are of voting age and are dependent on part-time work to pay tuition and room and board, [they] need to be aware of this.”

William Binning, the Government Relations representative at YSU, said the bill will likely not pass because it has not received much attention.

“To get somebody to vote yes, they have to feel comfortable, knowledgeable about what it is,” Binning said.

Seats in the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives and the judicial system will be decided by the election. De Souza said the outcome of the presidential election may not influence the result of these seats.

“Donald Trump as a candidate, even though he is running as a Republican, is really not a traditional Republican in any way,” De Souza said. “The people voting will be voting for him based on his own image, not because he’s a Republican.”

De Souza said since the number of cross-over voters was substantial in the primaries. Many Democrats hope a vote for Trump will not necessarily be a vote for all Republican positions on the down-ballot.

Only one county-wide issue will be presented on the ballot in Mahoning County. The issue requests for the five-year tax renewal for disability services and operations of facilities by the Mahoning County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

Local tax renewals in cities and townships will also make their way on the ballot.

Greta Frost, a political science student at YSU, said it’s at the local level that voters can have the most impact. However, those races get less coverage and getting informed requires more legwork.

“Voting for down-ballot candidates is extremely important,” Frost said. “Those are the people that can really patch the holes on your road or fix your school systems.”