City Club Debate
On Thursday, September 25th, we attended City Club luncheon and debate featuring the candidates for Ohio's 16th Congressional District, who were the incumbent Congressman Jim Renacci, a republican and Dr. Pete Crossland, Ph.D., a democrat, who for 30 years was a Political Science Professor at Kent University and currently Professor Emeritus at the university among his other accomplishments. Prior to his tenure in government, Congressman Renacci was a very successful businessman. Before lunch we spent some time talking to Dr. Roop Bahakuni, Ph.D. who immigrated to the United States from India in 1961 where he did graduate work at the University of Akron. Dr. Roop got his green card three years later and became a United States citizen in the 1970's He said that he believed that it was much harder to immigrate to the United States at that time. He had exceptional abilities, though, and was hired and sponsored by Good Year , and worked for that company doing rubber engineering for many years before he retired in 2003. He now spends a lot of time playing golf with his friend, Roger who was also there. When we asked him what he thought of immigration reform he said that he favored no amnesty at all and that President Reagan made a big mistake when he started us down that path although Dr. Roop believes that President Reagan's intentions were good.
We also talked to our good friend Parma City Council President Sean Brennan who is an instructor of high school American Government at Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School and was here with quite a few of his students. Councilman Brennan introduced us to his students and told them that Margaret W. Wong was perhaps the leading immigration attorney in the United States.
We spoke to Ms. Mary Boyle who is a good friend of Ms. Wong's and says hello to her. In fact, we overheard Dr. Crossland say that "people like Mary Boyle are keeping me going." Later Q and A after the debate, Ms. Boyle got to ask a question regarding the environment.
We sat with our old friend Ms. Wyn Antonio who works at the North Shore AFL-CIO. We enjoyed sitting with Ms. Antonio because we could whisper to each other our thoughts during the course of the debate which was indeed a lively one; Dr. Crossland set the tone for it in his opening statement when he thanked Congressman Renacci for being here to debate him even though he, himself, had good reasons why Congressman Renacci should no longer be in Congress.
The two of them went on to disagree, sometimes with passion, on such issues as the government shutdown, immigration reform, the future of social security and medicare, the environment, and what to do about the flight of business from the United States.
Certainly the issue that interested us the most was immigration reform. Congressman Renacci said that for him border security was a top priority and he opposed the compromise immigration bill that was passed by the U.S. Senate but not by the House. He went on to say that once the border was secured he would support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants as long as they were moved to the back of the citizenship line and weren't given priority over those people who were here legally; he said that a foreign born person who was in the United States legally and trying to become a citizen once pleaded with him to take this stand. He said that he favored a strong e-verify system and would strengthen worker programs.
Dr. Crossland said that he favored the compromise bill that was passed by the Senate and pointed out that it was bipartisan and supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; thus Congressman Renacci was opposing the business community on this one. He said that the statement that appears on Congressman Renacci's campaign website which says that he is 100% opposed to amnesty for illegal immigrants is a "terrible position" that hurts individuals and creates all types of problems and hurts the business community.
Afterwards, we went to the campaign websites of Congressman Renacci and Dr. Crossland to see what they put down in writing and to make sure that our notes were correct.
Under the issue of immigration, Congressman Renacci's website contained this simple statement:
"I am 100% opposed to amnesty for illegal immigrants. The U.S. government should never be in the practice of issuing any form of legal benefits to those whose first act in our country is violating our federal laws."
Dr. Crossland's website contained the following statement regarding immigration:
"Unlike Renacci who has pledged to oppose any path to citizenship, I will vote for the bipartisan compromise passed by the United States Senate. This is supported by both major business and labor organizations. A reasonable path to citizenship is necessary to help employers and job seekers. It will improve the economy, extend regulation and taxation to those identified, and relieve substantial human suffering in a number of ways."
We liked it that during the course of the debate Congressman Renacci talked about with how he came from a poor working family but through hard work and initiative he grew to become part of the American Dream. We are sure that Dr. Crossland and almost anyone running for office in 2014 would agree that this should be the goal; they only question what the best way is to help people achieve it.
Our second event for Thursday was a mixer at the 16-Bit Bar and Arcade on Detroit Avenue in Lakewood put on by COSE and the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce. Not as many people were there as we have encountered at other mixers but we still had some nice visits and came away with a dozen new contacts.
One person we spoke to said that it was funny that they met us today because they had planned to call Margaret W. Wong and Associates in the next several days regarding assistance to a person who had immigrated to the United States from India.
We also got a good lead in the form of a in-home assisted living provider who hires a lot of caregivers who immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe. The person we spoke with said that these people, who are generally middle-aged, have come here from such countries as the Ukraine, Poland Serbia and Romania and most of the time are "very good people who are always on time" who compassionately care for those in their 90's.