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  December 11, 2013

Independent Labor Candidates Win Two Dozen City Council Seats in Ohio

After increasing dissatisfaction with the Democratic party, Ohioans elect independent labor party members to fight for the rights of working people
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Joshua Thornsberry is a councilmember elect representing the independent Labor Party in Loraine County, Ohio where he was born and raised. He graduated from Cleveland State Summa Cum Laude in 2004 with a degree in Political Science, History, and Education, and earned a Masters Degree in education from BGSU in 2009. Joshua is currently a social studies teacher for Lakewood City Schools. He has been involved in politics since 1996 and is actively involved in the Ohio Education Association as a UniServ delegate.


JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.

Two dozen city candidates on an independent labor ticket were recently elected as city counselors of Lorain County, Ohio. Most of the candidates were union members of the AFL-CIO who chose to run after they felt that the traditional Democratic leadership failed.

Here to discuss these election results is Joshua Thornsberry. Joshua is a councilmember elect representing the Independent Labor Party in Lorain County, Ohio.

Thanks so much for joining us, Joshua.


DESVARIEUX: So, Joshua, why did you think it was necessary to form an independent third party in Lorain, Ohio?

THORNSBERRY: I think Lorain is--it's pretty much a single-party city, Republicans hardly ever run, and if they do, they don't usually do very well.

And I think what happened in Lorain is that the Democratic Party lost touch with the majority of the voters, lost touch with their base, with the union members, and various groups of people were just fed up and ready to do something about it.

DESVARIEUX: I see. And how did your support, this moment, your campaign against the traditional Democratic Party really grow?

THORNSBERRY: Well, it started off, I think, very heavy union-based, and then we kept finding other groups of people were fed up with the party establishment just like we were--Republicans, independents. Various other groups within the county were feeling the same way that we were feeling. And we were able to get groups that traditionally don't work together to work together for a common cause, and that would be the betterment of the city of Lorain, and also the county.

DESVARIEUX: Do you feel like your campaign really focused on economic injustice? Do you feel like those issues brought people closer together, as opposed to, I don't know, looking at social issues and things like that?

THORNSBERRY: Well, I don't think the campaign was too issues-based. I think it was more a general message of change. People were just fed up with the single-party system, the good old boys structure that has ran the city and the county for a very long time. And they were just open to new people with new ideas, no matter what those ideas were. They were just so fed up with the guys that had been there that, you know, they were willing to listen to any ideas. And we have people that supported us that don't necessarily agree with our ideas but just wanted to see a fresh face and some new ideas no matter what those ideas were.

DESVARIEUX: What's your advice for residents who are living in one-party cities like Baltimore, for example? How can they build an independent third party?

THORNSBERRY: Well, I think the key to being successful is you've got to get coalitions to work together that may not traditionally work together. Like I said, we started pretty small with a heavy union base, and that wasn't going to get the job done. We weren't going to defeat the good old boys in a single-party city with just union households. So we had to reach out to Republican households, we had to reach out to independent households, and these are groups of people that traditionally don't work together. I remember having a fundraiser, and, you know, half the room is full of Republicans and the other half of the room is full of labor guys. And, again, they had--for a long time have been at odds with each other and decided to unite together for a common cause. And I think that's what it takes for independent candidates or third-party candidates to be successful.

DESVARIEUX: Alright. Joshua Thornsberry, congratulations on your win, and thank you for being with us.

THORNSBERRY: Thank you. I appreciate it.

DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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