Last Thursday, May 18th, Dr. Janet Everhard brought her campaign to Portsmouth, Ohio, the 2nd Congressional District's most eastern city. Arriving in the evening in time to catch the tail end of a “Spring Picnic” hosted by the Federated Democratic Women of Scioto County, Everhard spent the night in town, on the river front. The highpoint of her visit came on Friday evening when she spoke at the monthly meeting of the Southern Ohio Progressive Movement, which hosted Everhard as part of the “Progressive Speakers Series."
Everhard and the Gerrymandered 2nd District
That Everhard travels the district in her RV, spending her nights and mornings in the communities she visits is testament to not only her dedication to the people of southern Ohio, but also to the gerrymandered nature of many Congressional districts. Like in many other states, a Republican-controlled state legislature has drawn its districts so that the greater Portsmouth area is divided between the 2nd and 6th Districts. Portsmouth City itself lays within the 2nd, over two hours away by car from the most western part of the district, which encompasses parts of Cincinnati.
Everhard criticized incumbent Republican Brad Wenstrup for dodging his constituents, avoiding face-to-face town hall meetings, and voting for the repeal of the ACA (Obamacare). Hundreds of thousands of families in southern Ohio are now threatened with the loss of their health insurance, significant increases in their premiums, loss of coverage for pre-existing conditions, and bankruptcy when struck with a major health crisis. Reflecting on her years of medical service in region, Dr. Everhard joined the audience in expressing her opposition to the proposed Trumpcare bill, which she described as primarily a tax-cut for the wealthy that would harm the most vulnerable residents of the 2nd District.
Proposed Trumpcare Bill to Create Ohio Budget Crisis?
Chase Brown of Innovation Ohio, a progressive public policy think tank, also spoke at the May meeting of the SOPM. Brown discussed the Kasich Administration's budget woes, as state tax revenue has come in nearly 800 million dollars below projections. In Columbus, speculation grows as to whether recent state tax cutting under the Kasich Administration had gone too far. All eyes are now on Ohio's rainy day fund, the special reserves that are set aside to cover unexpected downturns in the state’s revenue. Will Kasich tap these funds to balance the budget? Many Ohioans remember that Kasich campaigned against Ted Strickland by attacking the former governor for mismanagement of the state budget. What had Strickland done? In the face of a precipitous drop in tax revenue (in the depths of the Great Recession) the governor used the rainy day funds to fend off detrimental budget cuts.
Chase Brown with Innovation Ohio discusses the state budget crisis with supporters of the Southern Ohio Progressive Movement. Photo Credit: SOPM Media Team.
Brown suggested that if the proposed Trumpcare bill is enacted, with its rollback of federally funded Medicare expansion in states like Ohio, Gov. Kasich and the Republican-controlled legislature were going to face a major budgetary crisis. By pushing the cost of Medicare expansion off onto the state governments, places like Ohio, where budgets are being cut, will find themselves deciding whether to cut medical coverage for their constituents or whether to balance their budgets on the backs of those who can least afford it.
Community Gardens in Scioto County, Ohio
Kate Sowards of the Scioto Soil and Water Conservation District rounded out the speakers, with an explanation of the agricultural and conservation services provided by the state agency. Sowards focused her talk on the SSWC’s sponsorship of community gardens, highlighting their efforts in organizing community volunteers to prepare, plant, and harvest gardens located at the Portsmouth Salvation Army, the 14th Street Community Center, and the Shawnee State Park Nature Center.
Community Garden Volunteers Needed. Image Courtesy Scioto Soil and Water Conservation District.
The Greater Portsmouth Area Board of Realtors has taken the lead with the Salvation Army, where they have constructed raised beds. The produce is then used in the Salvation Army kitchen and distributed to those in need of food. If interested in helping out, contact Kate Sowards at 740-259-9231 EXT 109 or firstname.lastname@example.org.