Home Latest UpdatesDespite Democratic Party’s Efforts, Career Center Millage Falls Short in Warren County

Despite Democratic Party’s Efforts, Career Center Millage Falls Short in Warren County

WCDP Chair Kelly Sakalas: “Republicans have just proven yet again that when they claim they’re the party of working people, they’re lying through their teeth.”

The Warren County Democratic Party (WCDP) expressed its disappointment as Issue 7, a millage issue for the Warren County Career Center, fell short of passage in the March primary on Tuesday.

Warren County Democratic Party chair Kelly Sakalas noted the substantial investment from the WCDP in favor of the millage, which also fell short in the November 2023 general election.

After endorsing the issue, WCDP sent postcards to 6,300 Democratic and Democratic-leaning households in the school districts served by the Career Center, urging them to go to the polls to vote yes on Issue 7 despite the fact that there weren’t any major primary races on the Democratic side.

But contested Republican primaries driving up turnout among the GOP’s far-right base created a deficit that Democratic and independent voters weren’t able to overcome.

“Let’s be clear: Ordinary working families in Warren County just missed out on a great opportunity because of the extreme anti-public education agenda of the Republican Party,” noted Sakalas. “Republicans have just proven yet again that when they claim they’re the party of working people, they’re lying through their teeth. They couldn’t care less about working families in Warren County.”

Currently, the Career Center, which provides vocational education and job-skills training, has to turn away about one-third of the students who apply, and is only available for evening classes. If Issue 7 had passed, the Career Center would have unlocked $22 million in funding from the state and opened a second campus, enabling them to serve all students who apply, offer classes during the day as well as in the evening, and expand their offerings to ensure that Warren County students are prepared for the jobs of the 21st century.

Instead, students will have to look outside Warren County for these new vocational education opportunities, making the county less attractive to 21st-century employers and new or expanding businesses.

Sakalas linked the failure of the Career Center levy to Republicans’ long-standing opposition to quality public schools. “Public education is under attack in Ohio. Republican career politicians in Columbus are starving our public schools for funding, forcing them to keep going back to voters for bonds and levies, putting more of the burden on ordinary homeowners so that the wealthy won’t have to pay their fair share.”

A recent report card from Policy Matters Ohio found that Ohio ranks 21st in the nation for K-12 education, 46th in the nation for equitable distribution of funding, and 40th in starting teacher salaries. And just last year, after Ohio voters elected a pro-public-school majority to the state school board in the 2022 midterm elections, the governor and his Republican colleagues responded by stripping the state school board of most of its power and placing it in the hands of a Republican career politician appointed by the governor.

Sakalas added, “Instead of helping our public schools and vocational education, Republican career politicians like Adam Mathews are trying to undermine these pillars of our community — by stealing money from public schools to help rich families pay for private schools, constantly denigrating educators and public education, and pushing his dangerous extremist scheme to defund our public schools by eliminating the state income tax. I’m a mother of three, and all of our families deserve better.”

But Sakalas isn’t giving up hope. “We’re Democrats. We never stop fighting for working families. We’re going to keep on pushing for the Democratic agenda of President Biden, Senator Brown, and Congressman Landsman, to provide Americans with the vocational education they need to restore our country’s place as the industrial leader of the world. We’re honored and inspired by their leadership to keep fighting for their vision for America here in Warren County.”