Ohio voters will have two (or more) opportunities to participate in the 2024 election cycle, with a primary coming up on March 19, 2024, a special election for Ohio’s 6th Congressional District coming up on June 19, 2024, and finally the general election coming up on November 5, 2024.
Available positions range from municipal seats all the way to voting for the nation’s next president. It's an opportune time for civic engagement and involvement in Ohio’s local politics, be it as a candidate, voter, or volunteer.
The top issues on voters' minds may shift with breaking news impacting Ohio cities' challenges. However, some concerns are likely to persist. Below, we’ll walk through some of the core issues grabbing voters’ attention in Ohio this year, from social policy and environmental concerns to the education system and economic challenges.
While Ohio is far from the United States’ southern border, immigration remains a significant concern for voters in the Ohio 2024 elections. Currently, Ohio, like many other states, is feeling the impact of a growing immigrant population in local communities. Voters must decide on candidates with viable ideas on immigration or propose their own solutions to address Ohio cities’ challenges.
Advocates for limiting immigration argue that it strains Ohio's social service system, including Ohio healthcare, while supporters of immigrants emphasize America's history as a country of immigrants.
Many Americans, including those in Ohio, feel the impact of recent economic challenges, which are a top concern for Ohio cities. Credit card debt hit an all-time high in 2023, and many families are depleting savings accumulated before the COVID pandemic. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics’ consumer price index rose by an average of 5.18% per year from 2020 to 2023, diminishing the purchasing power of $1 to $0.81.97 compared to the last presidential election. Affordability challenges extend to Ohio healthcare, a top political concern urging voters to prioritize healthcare considerations.
Additionally, the impact of rising housing costs poses significant challenges for voters. While home values surged in 2021-2022, there was a modest decline in 2023. The average rent in many Ohio cities remains high. The average rent in Dayton, for example, stands at $1,803, while the average rent in Cleveland rests at $1,338. Consequently, economic policies become crucial considerations for Ohio voters.
Three prominent healthcare issues may rise to be top Ohio voter priorities.
First, questions arise about how the state collects Medicaid payments after a person dies, especially concerning the requirement for individuals needing long-term help to sell their homes before qualifying for assistance. Advocates argue that the state's current practice, which recoups only 1% of the care expenses and placing a lien on the property, should be a top healthcare priority.
Governor Mike DeWine's executive order barring gender-transition care for minors has also stirred controversy among voters. Although not up for reelection, some hope the state's legislators will either support or overturn this Ohio healthcare decision. DeWine's recent overturning of a law banning puberty blockers for transgender minors and restricting transgender girls from participating in girls' sports adds further complexity to this political challenge, highlighting the divisive nature of the issue.
Additionally, many voters in Ohio may choose to vote for candidates who agree with their view on abortion, making it one of the top Ohio election issues. In December 2023, voters passed an amendment to protect abortion and contraceptive rights in the state. Many voters on both sides of the issue believe that abortion needs to be one of the top healthcare priorities when voting for Ohio public policy.
Among Ohio voters' election concerns is the environment, particularly for those near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border where a train derailed on February 3, 2023. After the incident, people at the site reported illnesses due to toxic fumes, raising concerns about potential harm to the Ohio environment. In December 2023, Norfolk Southern, the train's owners, announced the discontinuation of relocation assistance for those who haven't returned home. Residents remain apprehensive about water contamination and lingering Ohio environmental issues, making this one of the top concerns facing certain Ohio cities.
As voters across Ohio head to the polls for the 2024 elections, local concerns will undoubtedly play a role in their decisions at the ballot box, in addition to the state-wide concerns described above. Below, we’ll explore the local issues facing Ohio’s five most populous cities.
An issue that will dominate the Columbus election landscape is homelessness, a top social concern in Ohio. A June 2023 report by the Coalition on Housing and Homelessness in Ohio revealed a 7% increase in unhoused individuals over the past year. The Columbus election landscape reflects divergent views on this issue, with some advocating for increased federal funding for low-cost housing and others insisting on employers paying a living wage. The impact of low wages can also contribute to environmental concerns in Ohio, as property care suffers.
Public safety is another paramount concern for Columbus voters in the 2024 elections, with the city being estimated as 85% more dangerous than the national average. The frequency of crimes in the Columbus area elevates safety as a top concern in Columbus’s upcoming elections.
One of the top political issues in Cleveland revolves around ensuring fair and accessible elections. The election board aimed to secure a new election site by January 1, 2024, for the March 19 primary, but missed the deadline. This failure has prompted voters to express their opinions on suitable election locations, marking it as a top Cleveland political issue.
Another issue rising to the top of Cleveland’s recent concerns involves the question of whether voters want to renew a $4.8 million Health and Human Services levy, funding programs like universal pre-kindergarten, services to address homelessness, and senior services. If the levy fails, tax dollars must cover the shortfall to maintain federal funding, making it a top concern in Ohio elections.
In Cincinnati for 2024, infrastructure emerges as a top voter concern, fueled by frustrations over the pace of improvements despite federal funding in 2021. The city's infrastructure challenges intertwine with social challenges and Ohio’s environmental issues, impacting accessibility to assistance.
Additionally, Cincinnati voters will address issues in the Ohio education system, particularly with Cincinnati Public Schools having failed all state standards in 2022. These educational challenges contribute to Cincinnati's social concerns, emphasizing the interconnected nature of the top political issues in Ohio’s third-largest city.
Toledo's roads pose ongoing concerns, prompting Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz to propose a road tax renewal on the March 2024 ballot. Addressing this issue is crucial for tackling Toledo's economic concerns, making it a top election issue and a key concern for the Ohio economy.
Safety forces in Toledo also face scrutiny, with potential debates on increased funding for the police force and community policing efforts. Enhancing public safety is seen as vital for attracting businesses, influencing Ohio's economic outlook, and addressing environmental issues.
Akron's new mayor, Shammas Malik, has prioritized improving the city’s police department, sparking discussions among city council candidates. Some question the impact on Ohio social policy, while emphasizing potential environmental issues caused by vandalism and other crimes.
The city's inclusion in local economy federal funding initiatives to revitalize the local economy has also triggered debates on projects affecting social issues, altering social policy, and addressing economic challenges and environmental issues in Akron and Ohio.
In light of the top issues affecting Ohio voters in 2024, this year is a great time to get involved in local politics and make a difference in your community. Here are a few of the most powerful ways to get involved and make an impact:
Run for office. Though the filing deadline to participate in Ohio’s March primaries has already passed, the deadline for independent candidates is still months away, on August 7, 2024. Planning a run for office is perhaps one of the most impactful ways you can step up for your local community.
Volunteer. Consider volunteering with local organizations that matter to you, on behalf of a local candidate’s campaign for office, or even with a national organization like Good Party.
Attend public meetings. Become a more active citizen by attending local school board meetings, city council meetings, and any other public meetings that impact life around you.
Stay informed. One of the easiest ways to become more involved in Ohio politics is to become better informed about local issues. You can also take the time to better understand the structure of Ohio’s state, county, and local government, the process of upcoming elections, and the potential impact of upcoming legislation.
Register to vote. Get ready to participate in the 2024 elections by making sure you’re registered to vote! Remember that your voice matters.
However you choose to get involved in Ohio politics and the upcoming elections, know that you are making a real difference!