I have now had two well-attended town hall meetings and countless private and small group meetings since SB5 was introduced. In all instances, the teachers, ODOT employees, policemen, and other public workers I have met have been respectful while opposing my support for this legislation. They have passionately explained their positions, and on all occasions we have walked away with a better understanding of each others' stances. This is the nature of respectable and polite discourse.
And then there were those who expressed through intimidation what they could not express in words. This week, a group of opponents of SB5 showed up at my family's place of business. Yelling objections and waving signs, these people were attempting to disrupt my family's workplace and the neighboring residents in order to win sympathy for their cause. It is one thing to rally at the statehouse or at a political office. It is quite another to do so at a private business - especially when this group knew I was not in Marietta at the time.
When my brother asked the protesters to leave, they threatened to move the protest to my home. My home-where my wife and children live. This mob was even prepared to accost my family while I was away.
We have serious challenges in Ohio. With an $8 billion deficit, some have compared Ohio's plight to being on the sinking Titanic. In such a scenario, it's not enough to just rearrange the deck chairs; we must steer away from the iceberg entirely. And yet, it seems that many of our public employees are saying, "Give us the lifeboats; the rest of you can fend for yourselves!" That's not the way a great state overcomes its challenges. We must all sacrifice. We must all work to reform the broken system that's been given to us, thanks to years of inept leadership.
To the people who affronted my family: I will thank you to leave my family alone. To those whom I have personally met at the many meetings I have had: thank you for your civility, and I welcome your thoughtful arguments. I also thank those who vehemently oppose SB5 yet refused to participate in this shameless exhibition of aggressiveness and threats. To all my constituents, my doors are always open for respectful dialogue.
Rep. Thompson may be reached by calling (614) 644-8728, e-mailing District93@ohr.state.oh.us, or writing to State Rep. Andy Thompson, 77 South High St., Columbus, Ohio, 43215.