Ohio’s political future is taking shape

If you care about the future of the Buckeye State, pay close attention to what happens in Martins Ferry on Tuesday.

That is when some of the people who hope to become Ohio’s 70th governor will hold the inaugural debate of the campaign. The Ohio Democratic Party is hosting the event, slated for 7 p.m. at Martins Ferry High School.

If you don’t already have tickets to the debate, you can no longer obtain them. According to state party Chairman David Pepper, all available tickets have been spoken for, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t hear what the candidates have to say. The ODP will be live-streaming the debate, and questions will be taken from those following the party’s feed on Facebook and Twitter.

Why do I think this event is so important? 

Aside from the fact that several statewide candidates are choosing to launch their campaigns in the Purple City and the indication that our region may have increasing influence in future elections, this is our first chance to meet the Democrats who want to be Ohio’s next chief executive. That is a big deal. One of these individuals could impact state laws and policies — and our lives — for many years to come.

The four Democrat candidates running for governor are state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, who has a reputation for working closely with former state senator Lou Gentile of Steubenville; Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley; former state representative Connie Pillich of Montgomery; and former congresswoman Betty Sutton of Barberton.

The Republican candidates — Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Jon Husted, U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor –will gather for the first time in a public setting on Oct. 8 at a megachurch near Columbus. That is a very different venue, and it will be harder for local residents to attend, but it is still an important event that could tell us just as much about the future leadership of our state. Tickets for that forum remain available online through Eventbrite under the heading “Together for Ohio.”

The election to replace Republican Gov. John Kasich, who is term limited, is still more than a year away. But the decision Ohioans make in November 2018 will be an important one, and we in the local area have a critical role to play in that choice.

I urge you to follow the debate Tuesday and to learn more about each of the candidates and their platforms every chance you get.

What’s more, we need to set aside the exhaustion many of us felt following last year’s presidential election and make sure we continue to participate in the democratic process. While there is no presidential or gubernatorial race on the next ballot, an election will be held on Nov. 7. Be sure you register to vote if you have not already done so, then learn about the issues and candidates that are in the running and get to the polls to cast your vote.

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On an entirely different note, “Black Friday” arrived last Sunday for fans of the jazz rock band Steely Dan. Walter Becker, who founded the group with partner Donald Fagen in 1972, died on Sept. 3.

Few details about Becker’s death have been released, but the 67-year-old guitarist and songwriter had been ill this summer, unable to perform with “the Dan” at the Classic West and Classic East shows in Los Angeles and New York.

For me, his passing marked an alarming point in the lives of musicians I grew up listening to. Although Michael Jackson and Prince were the pop icons of most people my age, their deaths did not come as much of a shock to me, given their excentric lifestyles. Although Becker was much older, the music of Steely Dan that I began hearing before I even started elementary school seemed much more timeless to me.

“Can’t Buy a Thrill” was the first record album I owned. If I recall correctly, my brother, Larry, brought it home from college in Boston. He may not have intended to give it to me, but I claimed it when he left it behind.

Since then, I have listened to and owned many Steely Dan albums, both on vinyl and CD. Tunes like “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,” “Reelin’ in the Years” and “Two Against Nature” have formed much of the audio backdrop of my life. From their catchy riffs to their edgy lyrics, I have enjoyed them all.

As I have written before, music can play many important roles in our lives. With Mr. Becker’s passing, I remind you to enjoy your favorite musicians while you can. You never know what might happen.