The issues on this ballot may affect the quality of life in Ohio and involve taking a moral stand, so everyone should make the effort to vote. The local City Council is the election we can affect the most and is in need of people speaking their minds now at the ballot. Your vote is important. Please vote!
- Cleveland Heights Municipal Court: JJ Costello – Capable, Experienced, Respects our community
- Cleveland Heights City Council – Vote for 3 – Gail Larson, Jim Petras, Jeanne Gordon. The current council and leadership have not accomplished the vision set out by those in Citizens for an Elected Mayor. Council’s role to be a check and balance has been hindered. Council Members cannot get the information they require to research and propose legislation, and the government has been less – not more – transparent, less available and less responsive and generally dysfunctional. There is a widespread belief that this proposed slate, together with the remaining members of council, will be able to move the city forward in all these regards in a stronger, more positive manner. It is certainly a difficult decision not to recognize Melody Hart and Janine Boyd for their past support of our community and it is therefore with regret that we cannot endorse them. While they remain friends, we are joining those involved in advocating this slate. Jessica Chavi Cohen and I stand together on this. See her expanded statement below. Political endorsements around the city have been split, so the vote may be close. All candidates support Israel. Vote for Godon, Larson and Petras.
- School Board – CHUH – No recommendation, Candidates are unopposed and do not favor our community.
- State of Ohio Constitutional Amendment – Abortion On Demand/Reproductive Rights. – longer explanation, see below as this is far from simple. Vote NO
- State of Ohio Issue 2 – The legalization of cannabis. Vote NO – This is a referendum. As such, state legislators will be able to pass restrictions even if this passes. Both seem likely. PRO: to be able to tax and regulate its sale. CON: Other states that have legalized recreational marijuana see increases in multiple safety issues such as children getting toxic and accidental doses and traffic hazards. While some downplay the ill effects, I have a very hard time picturing our Rabbis saying “Go for it” for recreational use. Medical uses are already legal. Some like to say that marijuana really isn’t a gateway drug, but it clearly is. Those who suffer addictions and die from overdoses of fentanyl often started with marijuana. We have lost and buried too many children to drug addiction not to recognize its danger this poses and respond with a solid NO.
- Issue 5 – A tax renewal and increase for Tri-C. Generally I support renewals but not increases. This contains a small increase in a tough economy, yet, Tri-C gives our young adults the very affordable start they need to enter the economy. It benefits our own and is worthy of your support. No recommendation.
Expanded Edition – Explanations of the Elections
Cleveland Heights City Candidates
The following was written by Chavi (Jessica) Cohen reflecting our joint recommendation.
A trusted and empathetic leader, Gail consistently engages with residents and brings our concerns to city staff and Council. Sensitive to the needs of the Jewish community, supportive of Israel and our community generally, and responsive to our issues, Gail can be counted on to voice our needs and stand in our corner.
Jeanne brings her keen intelligence, experience as a lawyer, and creative ideas to her vision for Cleveland Heights. She has distinguished herself in this race by offering pragmatic, smart, and achievable solutions for issues that have plagued Cleveland Heights for many years. We would be well-served by having her on Council where she can lead her fellow council members in actionable ways and contribute her common sense vision. Jeanne is supportive of the Jewish community and acknowledges the unique and important role we play in the city.
Jim brings a younger perspective and a practical vision to the race. Motivated to run by the dysfunction we all see with Council, he believes strongly that Council needs to serve as an important check on the mayor and an active role in crafting legislation that will solve ongoing issues in the city. New to running for office, but not new to city politics, Jim has been a vocal supporter of Israel and the Jewish community and is ready to get to work with Council to make real progress.
Ohio Issue 1; The Abortion Issue
Historically we are in a very different position than we had been under the 50 years of Roe V Wade which assumed Constitutional protections nationwide for abortion on demand. You have likely seen the Agudas Yisrael respond with statements supporting most limits but saying that they, with regret, cannot agree to X or Y proposal because it goes too far and may prevent a halachically needed abortion when the mother’s life or limb is endangered, from back when Roe V Wade was the rule. Today, we have a somewhat opposite situation. Since the Dobbs decision, there is no more national Right or Ban. Instead, each state will have its own position on what it does or does not allow in this regard. Ohio’s Heartbeat Law is quite restrictive, allowing no abortions with few exceptions once the baby’s heartbeat is detected, which is fairly early along and does not allow for halachic discernment.
Objectively it is very important to remember that halacha doesn’t believe in choice. One either may not or must. Certainly as it is practiced widely as an alternative to contraception or to avoid inconvenience, terminating a special needs baby, or because one simply doesn’t wish the life within, it is assur. When the abortion is warranted, it is mandated even as it is tragic. Under the current Heartbeat Law, it is not clear how the concept of Chayei Sha’ah (temporary life) would be respected, where the mother’s life might be saved for a time, but ultimately she will succumb to her illness. Another unclear case might be where multiple treatment options are available to a mother, but because she is pregnant, the doctor, afraid of the law, only mentions the lesser treatment that does not require an abortion and not the better one that does, thereby jeopardizing the mother’s life. Halacha will take a case by case evaluation, but the current law does not provide enough protections, including none for mental health when suicide cannot be ruled out. Therefore, beyond pikuach nefesh, this is a matter of religious freedom which is of grave concern to us always. Given this, the current law is problematic and could risk the lives of mothers . Should it stand, one recourse for that situation might be to travel to a more permissive state. Nevertheless, a no vote which would leave the heartbeat bill in place, does not articulate our position well.
The more likely scenario–based on polling data saying 58% support Issue 1–is that the new law will pass and put us into an even more open ended scenario than under Roe v. Wade. Although most papers (liberal in their mindset) have endorsed a Yes vote on Issue One, the Toledo Blade surprisingly used this logic to advocate for a NO vote. The outcome of this law passing will be the grotesque and immoral killing of many many unborn children up until the moment of birth. Further, the wording on this, “reproductive rights including but not limited to abortion”, may well establish a state constitutional right for all reproductive procedures including gender altering ones which was not considered part of Roe V Wade protections.
In summary, a Yes vote would maintain the religious freedoms for when abortion is needed, mandated, and would save a Jewish mother but also open the door to many things we clearly abhor, while a No vote curbs religious freedoms by erring on the side of life, thereby making necessary abortions inconvenient.
There is a lot of emotion and hyperbole being spread on both sides, as you might imagine. It is worth noting that legal experts do not fear that this amendment will override parental rights in regard to minors wanting these procedures because parental rights are already in the State Constitution, and there is precedent for understanding the word individual not to include minors. There is also a lot of passion on this amendment. I received calls emphatically urging me to back both sides. For those who cited proofs from other legislation, it is worth reminding everyone that each law in each situation has to be looked at individually. The legal landscape for other legislation past or present may be instructive, but each deserves its own scrutiny. With this one there is no perfect or obvious answer.
Because this issue is so complicated and neither a Yes vote nor a No vote actually represents our views both differing from halacha; and because big moral and legal issues are left wanting with either vote; and because the alternative is no less than pikuach nefesh, this question was sent to some Rabbanim of the Moetzes Gedolei HaTorah. (And before you ask, yes, they can, should, and do comment freely on issues; they just can’t endorse candidates.) They responded that Torah Jews should be on record opposing abortion on demand. Vote NO on Issue 1