Interview With Steve Silver

I recently sat down with Steve Silver, the Democratic candidate for State Representative in Ohio’s 34th District. Steve will face incumbent Republican Tom Brinkman in the Fall election this year.

DL: What is your favorite drink?
SS: “Oh, that’s easy. My favorite drink is a Black and Tan if you can get it. Actually, my very favorite drink is a Black and Red. They make it with Killians. It’s a little bit different, you got to find the guy who can pour it the right way.”

DL: Why do you want to be a State Representative?
SS: “This whole thing started out last October and a friend asked me about running. I didn’t think that they were serious because I didn’t have any kind of political background or anything like that and he starts to tell me about this guy who’s got the office now, this Brinkman guy and I didn’t really know too much about him. Once I started to find out about him it became pretty scary. As a matter of a fact, in my job as a pilot, we do a lot of scary things, especially like on September 11th.” “Being in the skies that day was pretty tough and then our everyday things like flying with weather, unruly people, and terrorist threat and that kind of thing never scared me too much but when I found out about who this guy was who had this office, that really scared me. How we could elect someone that has the ideas that he has and actually the more scary part was that I don’t think that people really knew what was going on. Not that it was apathy, it’s just maybe a little indifference or there is so much going on that people don’t follow state politics very much. So, that was the first part that this can’t be going on, we can’t get people like this representing us because I don’t think that he really does, I think that he represents his money and his agenda whatever that is. But the other part of it was, and I get a little misty eyed about this, but I really do believe, and I wanted to see for myself, if the common average guy could get elected starting from ground zero, grassroots and all, if it was possible to still have that happen and so I am a kind of living experiment. I want to be more than just an experiment, I’m thinking I’m a candidate with great ideas and I want to do this but I want to see if it’s possible. Is democracy out of touch for the average guy? I don’t know. I hope not, I am finding out that it’s not. I have received a tremendous amount of support and I think I’m going to win.”

DL: What would make you a better State Representative than Tom Brinkman?
SS: “Well, it’s not going to be hard to beat him. I lived in Anderson my whole life and I read the papers and I’m a pretty smart guy and I know what’s going on and I have never really heard of him. You know, I’ve heard his name, I see his signs, but that’s about it. I can’t think of any time that I have seen him around the community. I know that he goes to his Republican club friends and those kinds of meetings, but he’s never to my knowledge had a town forum.” “And I certainly know that he doesn’t represent what I feel is important in Ohio. He’s mostly into guns and anti-gay issues and anti-abortion issues, which may or may not be important to you but there’s way more things more important than that, that affect people in this district. Education is a big one and health care is another one. Those are things that people are dealing with everyday.”

DL: What is your view on Ohio’s constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage?
SS: “I think it’s ridiculous. I say this to people all of the time when I talk to them that there’s this giant elephant in our room, actually there’s several – healthcare issues and jobs in Ohio and our education is huge. Why are we wasting our time trying to decided who should be married and who shouldn’t? If you are worried about marriage in a Biblical sense, sometimes people say that’s the issue, but Biblically speaking it says in the Bible in many places not to judge other people. And that’s someone else’s job, not the government. I don’t even think that it’s constitutional to have an amendment like that. We are all supposed to have equal protection under the law, the 14th amendment, which Tom Brinkman voted against by the way. I would think that this is equal protection under the law. I’m surprised that it has survived as long as it has. It’s an emotional issue and I don’t think people really thought it through when they were voting for it, but I think it’s silly on almost every level.”

DL: What can be done at the state level when we are confronted by things such as, No Child Left Behind, and rising college tuition costs?
SS: “They’re shifting the burden. The state doesn’t have the money or they are using the money for other reasons. They’re more than happy to have people take second mortgages on their houses or get student loans or whatever to be able to go to college and honestly I have got a son in college right now and we’re pretty lucky to be able to afford it but I couldn’t imagine if you were paying that out of your paycheck every month or had to get student loans you could come out of Ohio State, where my son is and you would owe $80,000 on student loans which is more than the first mortgage on our house. I think the state has to decide and the people of the state have to decide what the priorities are. It should be made available to anybody who wants it and anybody who wants to go to school should be able to go to school and should not be something that is separated by your income because we are just going to separate the haves and the have-not’s even more. As far as the, No Child Left Behind, I can’t think of one person who has liked that program. It’s another un-funded mandate given by the state to the schools and they don’t give the schools any money to support the programs and I really don’t think it’s a fair measure.” “They are not teaching our kids what they need to know, they spend all the time teaching kids the test and it invalidates the test, it wastes their time, and it costs the schools a lot of money. I think our education process in the state, besides our funding issues are unconstitutional and have been for so long. We need to get the people who are actually doing the educating and ask them what works instead of having a lot of politicians dictate what they think is the best.” “And there’s no one size that fits all either. What might work in Forest Hills might not work in Adams County so we have to be flexible too.”

DL: Are there any alternatives to funding our public school system?
SS: “The first thing we have to do is balance out who is paying what. The property tax is getting out of whack with all of the school levies being proposed and it seems that the state is backing more and more away from what their responsibilities are.” “Like anything that is taxed based, we have to add more jobs to this state and that starts with education and you educate the people in the state.” “We need to grow the tax base in this state and that’s the only way it’s going to happen. We’re getting to the point now where we are getting to be like Alabama and Mississippi, sort of the laughing stock because all of the industries are moving away and we are not doing anything to foster any new industry moving in. We are trying to save as many jobs as we can but in the long run, the economy is going to determine where jobs go and if you got a lot of people who aren’t progressive and trying to think outside of the box on how to attract new businesses, then you are going to have problems.”

DL: What can the state do to get all Ohioans access to quality healthcare?
SS: “I have spent most of my campaign trying to address that issue and I have spoken with people at every level of the healthcare chain from people who buy into the insurance plans from P&G and GE to presidents of different healthcare associate plans here in Ohio to the end users. And there is a lot of blame to go around as to why our healthcare costs are so high. Everything from malpractice insurance to administrative costs that go into having the plan.” “We’ve got to get these big companies to pick from like one of five basic plans and that would keep the insurance company’s cost down. We’ve got to make it easier for doctors to do their jobs. The insurance companies are making it tough for them to do it. Just look at the administrative cost that’s involved. I was talking to a president of a group of doctors here and he says the reason that doctors are leaving Ohio is not so much because of the reimbursements but because of the administrative paperwork and how much time they have to spend with their non-medical duties and the overhead cost associated with it. Those are two areas but there are other ones.” “I think that it’s very doable that people buy into our Medicaid and Medicare plans. Florida has a similar system for their property insurance, they call it the pool down there because they don’t offer it very much anymore, insurance for hurricane damage so the state has gone ahead and done it on their own and said that you can buy into this pool on your own. I don’t know why it couldn’t be possible to do that with healthcare as well. Healthcare issues are the number one cause of bankruptcy in the country and especially in Ohio.”

DL: In light of the Coin-gate scandal, what would you do as State Representative to make sure that those responsible are held accountable and measures can be taken to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again?
SS: “I would have thought that, that was happening automatically. I know that there’s a lot of politics involved in it, but maybe we need to have an oversight committee in the legislature to watch those who are supposed to be watching out for those kind of things.”

DL: With plant closings, layoffs, and pay cuts, what can be done to keep good paying jobs in Ohio and also promote growth and bring in new business?
SS: “That has always been the 64 dollar question. Every state is competing for new plants and new businesses to come.” “The state has to be careful on how they offer incentives to companies. Don’t give away the store before you know they’re going to stay. But attracting business, that’s going to be the wave of the future. We’re going to have to be more aggressive and we are going to have to overhaul the way we think. We have pretty much got the reputation of being a rust belt type of state. We have the talent here, we have the major universities, programs and studies for new businesses to come and stay here. We have got a great workforce and those should be our selling points and we need to go out and actively do that with these companies. I don’t know how much Bob Taft is doing that. He has lost a lot of credibility so I don’t know who is willing to listen to him. Hopefully our next governor will be able to more than Bob is.”

DL: How can we get a program in Ohio to provide students education on safe sex, reduce the number of sexually transmitted diseases, and reduce unwanted pregnancies?
SS: “The right to life people should really name themselves the right to birth people because that’s all they’re really interested in. Once they have the baby, they really don’t care what happens to them. The baby can live in poverty its whole life, they don’t care much about their education, they don’t care about the parents who have to raise this child, they just want this baby brought into the world which is a noble thing, but you have to be a little more pragmatic than that. You need to support families with jobs and healthcare so they don’t feel like they need to have an abortion. That’s the main reason why people have abortions because they can’t afford a baby not necessarily because it’s an inconvenience to them, and they try to turn this around where it doesn’t appear that way. As far as sex education, I think it’s a two prong approach, one is sex education needs to happen, but I don’t think that there’s a lot of people out there getting pregnant unaware of the ramifications of having sex are. But, that being said, if we want to do it in the schools, that’s fine but most of it has to take place at home. If you’re not willing to have this discussion with your kids then you can’t rely on the schools to do everything that you are supposed to do as a parent. Number two, we need to make birth control more available and less costly because if we are going to try to stop people from having sex, it’s just not going to happen. I don’t care how many laws you are going to legislate, it’s not going to happen. So, why not address the real problem and that’s people getting pregnant who don’t want to be pregnant.”

DL: Final thoughts?
SS: “As a guy who is new in this process it’s been extremely exciting. It’s been so enlightening and people have been so supportive, especially like the people at Drinking Liberally, it’s been great. In the next few months as a Democrat, we’ve got a real opportunity to change the way this state has been going.” “It’s going to take people getting out and telling their neighbors and we need to pay attention to what’s going on, not just in Washington, but also on the state level because it gets ignored a lot.”

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