The NAACP held a forum in Akron for gubernatorial candidates over the weekend. It was attended by the four Democrats seeking their party’s nomination but neither of the Republicans.
The topics ranged from job creation to expanding mental health resources. On gun control, Dennis Kucinich and Joe Schiavoni both said they are in favor of an assault weapons ban. Richard Cordray said he wanted to tighten gun laws, create a school safety plan and find ways to work with local governments to reduce gun violence, prompting a direct reply from Bill O’Neill.
“I think we have an opportunity today to see something about courage. Richard Cordray was just asked a direct question: Do you or do you not support an assault weapons ban? And he gave us politician talk.”
Then Cordray asked for a chance to respond, referencing O’Neill’s controversial move in the wake of the growing “Me Too” movement.
“Don’t talk to me about courage. Your Facebook post, where you called out women, who you had had relations with, including two who you mentioned by name.”
O’Neill stated he was against a ban, but in favor of yearly licensing for assault weapons.
Afterward, Kucinich said the exchange should cause voters to consider whether either candidate has the right temperament for the job.
Denzel Gambrell is a senior at the University of Akron and part of the Akron Urban League’s Young Professionals group. He says it sends a message when no Republicans agreed to attend.
“For lack of better words, I guess it’s a slap in the face. Because though you may not have someone to run against, we’re still registered voters. This still would be a time for you to come out and plead your case and let people put a name to a face and interact with you.”
Organizers of the event said they hope to hold a second event after the May 8 primary, and plan to invite the Republican and Democratic candidates at that time.
The Green Party candidates had asked to be invited after the forum was announced, and the NAACP agreed, but their seat on the dais was empty on Saturday.