About two weeks remain until people head to the polls to vote in the May 7 primary election and on Monday, voters had another chance to hear a few of the candidates and local officials debate the races and issues.
A candidates forum was held at Union Baptist Church in Youngstown, and featured the three Democratic candidates for mayor, two Green Party candidates running for City Council President and one Youngstown Municipal Court Judge running unopposed. Once again, fracking stole the show as citizens asked questions of the candidates and listened to arguments for and against Issue 1, which is the Community Bill of Rights.
“The state is not protecting us,” said Rev. Monica Beasley-Martin, who supports the issue. “ODNR is giving permits to these companies to drill in our protected areas of our water, so we the people have a right to clean air, clean water and clean land.”
Representatives of Frack Free Ohio pointed to stats and studies that show many jobs promised from fracking never materialize. And they want control over the oil and gas industry brought back to the local level.
“The reality is is that this language, No. 1, is not going to fix it, and No. 2, is not going to override what the Ohio House of legislators can do,” said Jaladah Aslam.
Aslam represents AFSCME Power in Action, which on Monday came out against the Community Bill of Rights, saying it is detrimental to economic growth of Youngstown. Supporters of the Bill of Rights said the charter amendment has nothing to do with jobs, and everything to do with regaining local control over the oil and gas industry.
“We can all agree upon clean air, clean water, it’s how do we get there? But I want to make sure that we don’t turn our back on the economic opportunities that are there with this industry,” said Youngstown mayoral candidate Jamael Tito Brown.
A handful of Ohio communities have similar Community Bills of Rights in place. But mayoral candidate John McNally said it”s not as simple as it passing at the polls.
“This piece of legislation that you’re asking us to pass will not provide us that local control. It’s not going to do it,” McNally said.
Voters will decide Tuesday, May 7.