State, local leaders call for unity: ‘This country can be healed’

Regional and state Democrats and several Republicans called for unity and collaboration to resolve America’s greatest challenges after Democrat Joe Biden was declared the projected winner of the U.S. presidential race on Saturday.

Democrats said they were pleased to see Biden and Harris win, while most Republicans and nonpartisans called for unity in the days, weeks and months to come.

David Pepper, chairman of the Democratic Party in Ohio, said in a press release Saturday he was thankful and proud for everyone who worked in Ohio to elect Biden as president. Overall, 53.4% of Ohio voters chose President Donald Trump, giving him the state’s 18 Electoral College votes.

“Politics is a team sport, and everyone who pitched in from Ohio owns a piece of this historic victory — the day that we saved our democracy for future generations,” Pepper said.

Rhine McLin, vice chair of the Ohio Democratic Party, said having a Black woman in the White House is something to celebrate. Vice president-elect Kamala Harris is the first woman, first Black and first South Asian person to serve in this position.

McLin said Harris is a role model now for not only young Black women, but young women of color everywhere.

“So as an African-American woman in a red state like Ohio, I am just so proud to be able to point to Senator Harris, and vice president-elect Harris, to say you can still achieve,” McLin said.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said she was glad to see Biden and Harris elected. The past four years have been hard for Dayton, as a city that believes that everyone belongs here, she said.

“The rest of the state didn’t necessarily go for the winner; I’m glad our community did,” she said, and added, “We’re a community that believes in being a welcoming and inclusive place.”

State Rep. Rick Perales, (R-Beavercreek), said that once the litigation in the courts over the election is through and everything is finalized, the country should stand behind the president. He also noted that the Senate remains Republican and there are checks and balances in the system, “to ensure that we remain on the course that our forefathers intended us to be on,” he said.

“If we get through all the courts, he’s confirmed, legitimate as our president, we gotta stand behind him,” Perales said. " And the system will work with their checks and balances."

Jon Husted, Ohio’s lieutenant governor, tweeted, “It appears Joe Biden will be declared the winner of last week’s election & when election officials declare the final results, we should honor the outcome.”

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown said in a statement Biden’s election showed the country was “choosing truth, decency, and unity over lies and division.”

“We have work to do to address the challenges facing us: this pandemic, crippling inequality, systemic racism, climate change, and creating an economy that works for everyone," Brown said. "Biden and Harris are ready to restore hope and civility to the White House, come together to keep our democracy strong, and ensure that all work has dignity in this country.”

Former Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, in an appearance on CNN, said he was gratified that he backed Biden. He urged Biden to keep his commitment to reach across party lines to compromise and work to solve America’s greatest challenges.

“If all sides can begin to listen and think, this country can be healed,” he said.

Mark Owens, chairman of the Montgomery County Democratic Party, said he was thrilled with the results and believed Biden and Harris can bring the country together, as well as help local and state governments with funding after the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think it will be good for economic change. He cares about working families and working people,” Owens said.

Aaron Ockerman, executive director of the nonpartisan Ohio Association of Elections Officials, said the Ohio election had gone smoothly and people seemed to accept the Ohio results as legitimate. He said it was upsetting to see so many other elections officials in other states now being threatened with violence.

“Regardless of how it turns out, we need to come together,” Ockerman said. “We need to accept the results as legitimate.”

State Sen. Peggy Lehner, a Republican who represents District 6 including Kettering, said she hoped the country can now put the division in the country behind and move on with important issues.

“I think we had a hard-fought battle here for president of the United States, and I certainly congratulate the new president and hope the nation can start to heal right now because quite frankly there is so much animosity," she said.

State Rep. J. Todd Smith, who represents Ohio’s 43rd District near Farmersville, wrote on Facebook, “I do believe that President Trump can take part of the blame if this is ultimately a loss. Had he turned off Twitter and been less ‘Trump-y’ I believe he would have easily walked away with a second term. Too many people are emotionally underdeveloped and not able to set their feelings aside and look at facts.”

He added there is still a legal fight in the courts ahead.

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, who is a supporter of President Trump, tweeted, “Democrats in 2016: ‘Russia interfered in the election. We will not accept the integrity of the results!’ Democrats in 2020: ‘How dare you raise questions about election integrity!’”

Butler County Republican Party Chairman Todd Hall committed $5,000 to President Trump’s legal team as they investigate and challenge vote counts in several other states, including Michigan and Pennsylvania.

“Ohio stands tall as a state with a completely transparent and textbook election process. I believe Ohio, and especially our Butler County Board of Elections, should serve as a model nationally for how to operate a smooth, unified and almost flawless election system. Ohio saw Republicans and Democrats working together to put politics aside for the sake of our cherished and treasured democracy,” Hall said in a statement. “Whether or not there is anything substantial to these concerning claims, we owe it to the legacy of our Great Republic and to the citizens of this great nation to ensure a true and fair election process.”

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