Responses to CCPC's endorsement application questionnaire from:
Cassimir Alexander Svigelj, candidate for Ohio House District 16
Political Party Affiliation: Democratic Party
Current or previous elected offices: none
The current policies towards higher education in the State of Ohio is destroying an entire generations chances of achieving a middle-class lifestyle. According to WalletHub, Ohio is ranked first in having the worst student loan indebtedness and job opportunities. This massive student debt, that so many of us have incurred, is stagnating the economy because we are unable to buy new cars, homes, or any other major investment. A top priority of mine would be to fight for student loan forgiveness and develop a public-sector/university partnership to attract college graduates into the public sector and offer student loan forgiveness based on a commitment to work for the state and local governments for a certain number of years. This would lower unemployment, massively reduce student debt, and give recent graduates real-world experience. Under this model, students would be incentivized to serve their communities that would result in a domino effect in spreading the benefits of public service all throughout the state.
The myth of trickle-down economics has been so thoroughly decimated that I don’t understand how it continues to be actively used in public policy. If you want the economy to grow, it starts from the bottom up. Most economists will tell you that if you want to stimulate spending in an economy, then you put more money in the hands of the people who typically spend 100% of they’re paycheck. Raising the minimum wage is something that should have been done years ago. Inflation has far surpassed wage growth and it doesn’t help our economy if the top hold all their corporate profits and reinvest it into holdings. I will fight to bring a livable wage to Ohio.
Policy makers in this country sell their soul to big corporations and special interest groups to gain political office. Because of this, lobbyist have too much power over the policy that is crafted at both the state and national level. We most recently saw this in the so called “Tax Reform” Bill that the Republicans in Congress forced onto us. The lobbyist’s in D.C. made sure that members of Congress filled the Bill with corporate tax cuts that benefited their groups. If elected, I would introduce legislation that banned lobbyists from the Ohio Statehouse and removed the Lobbyist ID. Elected officials should be beholden to their constituents, not special interest groups.
It has been eight years since the citizens united decision and most Americans from both parties agree that it has been and will continue to be detrimental to our Democracy. These same polls found that these same citizens are pessimistic that law makers will do anything about it. This is understandable because the elected officials are now imbedded into these super PAC’s and vice versa. Therefore, we need new energy and new candidates who have no ties to special interest groups and who are willing to show up to community events and state their case. I promise that if elected to the Statehouse in Columbus, my priority will always be serving the people and every other creature on this planet.
According to a publication by the Economist, the mass incarceration rate in the United States has increased our poverty level by %20. What started as the “War on Drugs” was really a targeted effort to incarcerate minorities and create the modern slave state. The prison-industrial complex creates a lifetime cycle of poverty that carries into the next generation on an endlessly repeating cycle. I would fight for the complete decriminalization of drug use and fight to free the thousands of people still locked up in Ohio for nonviolent drug crimes. The justice department is currently doing some good work in working with young men who have been charged with non-violent drug and illegal weapons possession and enrolling them in a mentorship program that shows them that there is a way out of poverty besides drug dealing, athletics, or music. I would like to see that kind of work brought into the juvenile system.
Over reliance on property taxes to fund schools must end and a fair and equitable funding of schools for all students must be created. It has been 20 years since the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that school funding in Ohio was unconstitutional, and the legislature has done nothing but throw billions of our tax dollars to charter schools, making their political donors rich. In fact, the House Education Committee Chair, Andrew Brenner, from Powell called public education "socialism" and suggested the government privatize schools. The solution is not to give away millions of dollars to Charter School scams that should be going to our states public schools. Every school in a city should be accountable to their local school boards so each resident of that community has a voice in their children’s education. I will fight to end Charter Schools, bring more authority back to city school boards, and increase revenue sources to our states public schools.
To have Lake Erie right here on our shores is an amazing natural resource that we should be taking care of. Yet policy makers in Columbus continue to promote the interests of fracking, Big-Agra, and Big-Pharma that is polluting and destroying our water. We have a 10 billion dollar a year industry between the shores and islands out west yet we continue to allow special interests to pursue their disgraceful operations. Dave Greenspan, the current District 16 Rep cosponsored H.B. 114 which under the guise of being “pro-business” striped renewable energy requirements from corporations. I would fight to invest in more renewable energy projects such as LEEDCo’s Icebreaker Wind Farm project and remove the absurd standards placed on Ohio land based wind farms.
It is insane to increase the nuclear arsenal of a country that has enough power the destroy the world ten times over. I have been adamantly against my generation fighting the longest war in American history since I was in High School. I would like to introduce legislation that would not allow the federal government to use Ohio military personnel to fight its war in Iraq, even if only symbolic.
There is a popular misconception in this country that if you work hard you can make it in this country no matter what your circumstances are. We see incredible stories all the time about people who have made it out of the worst possible living situations and become successful. I am not saying that these aren’t incredible stories of perseverance, I am saying that to believe that anyone can make it out of their circumstances is naïve. Cyntoia Brown was a child sold for sex and is currently serving life in prison for killing her abuser. If the system punishes those who are being abused for trying to escape their hell, then we need a new system. There’s an old saying that, “they never had a chance” and for too many people in this country, they had a birth sentence to crime, poverty, or an early death. Those that say everyone has an equal opportunity here in Cuyahoga county, say that to the parents of Tamir Rice, who never got the opportunity to grow up because a police officer produced by a broken system pulled up to a park and two seconds later executed a young child. Every day we see this all across the country and I think about Tamir Rice every time I see my younger siblings, the youngest is now thirteen. I see that it could have been him, just because he is taller than average kids his age and just because his skin tone is darker. I worry that one day I’ll receive a heartrending phone call. This is why we need reform, because after it happens is too late.
I will also advocate for LGBTQIA community and fight to make sure no communities are discriminated against and support legislation similar to the recent Icelandic legislation that forces corporate transparency in releasing the amount they pay each employee.