Recently, the Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, Maureen O'Connor, asked us in Tribune op-eds to learn more about her proposals for improving our judiciary system by looking at the website ohiocourts2013.org. So, I did. I even entered my name and email address to receive updates.
I agree with the chief justice on almost all of her proposals.
Time for some ''full'' disclosures: I consider myself an independent voter, but I have been a registered Democrat more often than a Republican. I receive literature from each party, so I believe I have thoroughly confused both of them about my allegiance. I read about candidates carefully, and I vote for a person regardless of party.
I am not seeking any favor from the chief justice by agreeing with her views. I am a retired teacher, happy to be a part time-instructor at Youngstown State University, and not seeking any jobs, offices or influence.
The chief justice is a Republican. In fact, she served as Ohio's lieutenant governor from 1999 to 2003 on a GOP ticket. Yet, she seems to be promoting a plan to lessen the political influence of the two parties in electing judges, her own party included. To me, that alone is amazing. Currently, six of the seven justices of the Ohio Supreme Court are Republicans. In recent years, all seven have been Republicans.
To be sure, her proposal has opposition. Most of the editorials I have read seem to admire her initiative rather than endorse her ideas. And, the only Democrat on the high court, Justice William O'Neill, has been quoted as saying: ''That proposal is doomed to failure'' and ''Money and judges don't mix.'' He believes that a nonpartisan primary would favor the wealthiest candidates and the citizens of the state are better served by the current system.
I am not so certain. I may not be the sharpest pencil in the box; however, I wonder why some Ohioans adamantly favor being the only state with a partisan primary followed by a nonpartisan general election. Is it because we are so brilliant that we have the absolute, best system and all the others are foundering? Or are we so arrogant that we are just plain stupid? Or is it in the best interest of the political bosses of the two parties to maintain the status quo?
Chief Justice O'Connor gives statistics about the sorry state of judicial elections, which receive 25 percent fewer votes than the executive and legislative races placed at the beginning of the typical ballot.
To her math, I add my own. In the last general election, which included a race for Ohio governor at the top of the ballot, only about four of every 10 adult Ohioans voted. That means our governor was elected by about 20 percent of the adults who live in the state.
That doesn't speak well of the opposition either, which only managed to gain the support of about 19 percent of adult Ohioans. Consequently, by her math, any judicial races on that ballot would have drawn only about 30 percent involvement with any winner having to garner a whopping 16 percent, the majority of the paltry number of votes cast.
Further, I researched and learned that the number of registered Democrats in the state is about 2.4 million citizens, and the Republicans claim about 1.5 million. About 4 million Ohio voters do not have a party affiliation, and my own guess is another 2 million residents are not even registered. Call me a cynic, but neither party wants those 6 million potential voters at the polls in any election because they are not predictable or controlled by affiliation or allegiance.
Thus, I believe that our chief justice is on the side of all Ohio citizens. Sadly, she cannot affirm my beliefs because her own party might disown her and the Democrats would claim some foul. I suspect, in her position, she cannot even acknowledge my comments. So, I humbly say, ''Thank you, Madam Chief Justice, for your noble efforts.''
Williams is a Hubbard resident. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org