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Government and Politics

Stark voters want to hear about jobs, jobs, jobs
County fair kicks off Canton political season
This story is part of a special series.

Kabir Bhatia
Marina Miller wants to hear about jobs and education from candidates; for her, one drives the other
Courtesy of Carl Carlson
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In The Region:
After nearly a century as the center of its own Congressional district, Stark County is facing this November with a divided electorate. But even if voters are physically split amongst three districts, WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports that they’re unified in their concerns.
Stark voters want to hear about jobs, jobs, jobs

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The political season in Stark County unofficially begins each year on the week before Labor Day, under the solid brick grandstand. That’s where dozens of politicians and political parties – from Democrat Sue Ryan to Republican Scott Oelslager – set up to do their business, handing out notepads and hearing concerns from constituents. This year, as last, they hear one concern more than any other. 

Jobs remain a big concern. But 23-year-old Republican state Rep. Christina Hagan says that may be subsiding.

“I think with the unemployment rate decreasing in Stark County and being lower than the state and national average, things are positive. It may not be a direct result that we’re seeing immediately, but things are starting to move in the right direction. So I think people are feeling better.”

Hagan is running for the first time, though she’s been in the Statehouse for about a year and a half. The state GOP appointed her while she was still a senior at Malone University.

Wants answers about jobs
Marina Miller from Canton is one of those who is not so sure Hagan’s read on the economy is right. Her husband has been out of work for two years, and she wants to hear one thing from candidates.

“That there’s going to be more jobs, and they’re going to push for it. Try to get more out of there for us.

"Going back to school would be an option. You would need help and assistance for people who are laid off. If they could come up with some sort of plan for that it would be nice.”

Plans are the last thing Harold Yoder of Alliance expects to hear. The 80-year-old retiree doesn’t need a job. But he says his grandkids do, and he hasn’t heard anything useful from any of the candidates. 

“'Oh we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna do that.' And what do they do? Try to get re-elected next time.”

Jobs were also top of the list for Mike Harrer of Canton, because HIS job is getting convicts back into the workforce.

“I want to hear what they think is going to bring more jobs to Stark County, and what people think about the re-entry program. Hiring felons, giving folks a second chance. There’s a lot of jobs here. Are they going to open up their minds and allow folks to work?”

Harrer says he wants to hear what candidates will do socially to effect the economic changes needed for the people he works with.

Candidates hearing other concerns, too
Bob Gibbs, Joyce Healy-Abrams, Marisha Agana, Tim Ryan, Jim Renacci and Betty Sutton were among those who’d set up shop along the four long rows of political booths. And some of those passing by say they have non-economic concerns as well, as they prepare to vote in November. 

Nursing student Lauren Jarc of Canton is one.

“It just seems like, if you have a vagina, you wouldn’t be over in the Republican Party. All the women’s issues and all the Planned Parenthood craziness in this election. Seems weird that you could take somebody’s choices away.”

Jarc and her husband have two kids and are staunch Democrats. They only stopped in the grandstand to ask for yard signs for President Obama’s re-election.
Listener Comments:

Cool Lauren!!

Posted by: Anonymous on September 5, 2012 1:09AM
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