COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — High-profile statewide measures on crime victims’ rights and prescription drug prices will be decided today in Ohio, along with local elections including mayoral races in three of the state’s four largest cities.
The two highly publicized state issues highlight ballots with myriad local races for leadership of the state’s cities, townships and villages. There are intraparty Democratic battles for mayor in some key cities, as Democrats look for emerging stars after recent statewide domination by Republicans.
A look at key issues and races:
Marsy’s Law for Ohio aims to expand crime victims’ rights to more closely match those of the accused. The campaign is part of a multi-state effort. The proposed constitutional amendment assures that victims and their families receive notice of court proceedings, have input on plea deals and other rights.
The measure is championed by California billionaire Henry Nicholas and named for his sister, who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.
Similar measures have seen pushback in some states where they’ve passed. Opponents cite unintended consequences, such as law enforcers halting the release of vehicle crash reports for fear it would be unconstitutional.
The Ohio Drug Price Relief Act seeks to curb prescription drug prices paid by the state for prisoners, injured workers and poor people.
The citizen-initiated measure would require the state to pay no more for prescription drugs than the Department of Veterans Affairs’ lowest price, which is often deeply discounted.
Supporters, led by the California-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, say it would save the state millions and could force the industry to reduce prices elsewhere. An opposition campaign funded by the pharmaceutical industry says it would reduce access to medicines and raise prices for veterans and others.
Reported spending has already topped $65 million, making Issue 2 the most expensive ballot campaign in state history.
Mayor John Cranley faces a spirited challenge from councilwoman Yvette Simpson in Cincinnati.
He has pointed to downtown development and the nationally recognized revitalization of the historic Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. He claims “a proven track record of progress” that shows he knows how to get things done.
The former two-time congressional candidate has the backing of some Democratic Party leaders in the nonpartisan election against another Democrat. Simpson has said she has “a strong vision for our city” and will be more inclusive than Cranley. She grew up in poverty and says she has empathy for others trying to escape it.
Frank Jackson hopes to win a record fourth four-year term as Cleveland’s mayor. He also faces a fellow Democrat, longtime east side Councilman Zack Reed.
Jackson has business community backing and the fundraising advantage. Reed drew police union support with his pledge to increase public safety, including hiring hundreds more police officers.
Jackson has emphasized his stewardship of the city through the national housing crisis and recession that hit hard there. He says while Reed has been critical of him, Reed hasn’t laid out detailed plans for what he would do.
In Toledo, Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson, a former city council president, is seeking her first full term after winning a special election two years ago to serve out the term of her predecessor, D. Michael Collins, who died after suffering cardiac arrest.
She’s up against Lucas County Treasurer Wade Kapszukiewicz. They’ve tangled over city spending and how best to deal with the algae in Lake Erie.
The Blade newspaper endorsed Kapszukiewicz, saying Hicks-Hudson hasn’t shown leadership during her time in office and that he offers professionalism and imagination. Both are Democrats.
Dayton’s mayor, Nan Whaley, is running unopposed for re-election while also vying for the Democratic nomination in 2018 for governor.
Meanwhile, Democratic incumbents in Columbus and Akron are still midway through their first terms.