Vindicator editorial on point

With regard to the “Our Voice” editorial titled “Massacre in Pittsburgh resonates in the Valley,” which appeared in the Oct. 29 issue of The Vindicator: Thank you for such a beautifully written, compassionate article. I hope everybody “gets it” and reacts favorably. However, sadly, I realize that is not necessarily the case.

In any event, I will continue to read The Vindicator and expect it to continue to bring me the real news facts so I can continue to make up my own mind and know that I am in a community that has so many decent individuals to represent it.

Bette Stadlen, Boardman

Silent majority must vote against hate in election

Another shooting, this time in a place of worship. What has happened to America? Instead of a place for everyone, no matter your race or religion, we are now one of hate for anyone different than yourself.

Can we turn it around and become what we once were? A nation of people from many different countries who became Americans because they believed in the America they heard about where everyone belongs.

Hate has no place in my America. The president and his followers need to take a long hard look at what they are reaping with their words and actions.

It seems today if you don’t agree with them you face ridicule or worse.

When I was young, I could not understand how the people of Ireland would kill one another because they were of a different religion. Now it is happening in America, and I still don’t understand it.

If we don’t stop sowing seeds of hate with our words, we will end up reaping more deaths that make no sense to sane people.

If you are registered to vote, please do so on Election Day so you can voice your opinion and stop being the silent majority.

Darlene Torday, Berlin Center

Vote for those who believe in rights for immigrants

As you head to the polls Tuesday, please vote for candidates who care about the less fortunate among us. As a nursing student at Youngstown State University and a naturalized citizen for decades, I have seen firsthand the struggles among family and friends who are denied sufficient health care because of their legal status or fear of deportation amid our frightening immigration policies. Despite the current political rhetoric, undocumented immigrants pay taxes just like the rest of us.

America is the dream for those under oppression, suffering from persecution or living with devastating poverty. They take the risk of dying trying to flee to America. Many do get killed, abused or raped in the process. But for most, death is a better option than the inhumane conditions they’ve left.

You might say, “Not my problem.” You’re entitled to that opinion. But that’s not the America I know and love. When refugees arrive here, their problems are far from over. They still face difficulty speaking and learning English; securing work, housing and transportation, and accessing health care – which the World Health Organization recognizes as a human right. A 2015 report from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research listed Ohio as the worst state in the country for policies and laws to support the health and well-being of undocumented immigrants, even denying Medicaid to pregnant women.

Most immigrants do not know their rights, or do not use services for fear of getting deported. Consequently, many undocumented immigrants pay taxes for benefits they can’t even receive such as Medicare, Social Security or Earned Income Tax Credit. The most recent data, from 2015, shows the IRS received 4.4 million income tax returns from workers who don’t have Social Security numbers, amounting to $23.6 billion in income taxes.

We can do better, by electing those who still believe in a compassionate America and by recognizing, as human beings, the pain these people had to suffer to get here.

They feel unwanted and disconnected. So smile at them. Start a conversation. Make them feel at home. After all, they have simple wishes: to put a roof over their heads, food on their tables and to raise their kids in a safe, healthy and secure environment.

Gulay Yazar, Canfield

Gulay Yazar is president of the Muslim Student Association at Youngstown State University.

Support Issue 1 because lawmakers failed us

Regarding your Oct. 26 editorial, “Keep Issue 1 provisions out of Ohio Constitution”: While I acknow-ledge the editors’ view that Issue 1 isn’t a constitutional issue, the fact is that our politicians have failed to tackle the opioid crisis and now it’s spiraling out of control. Since 2011, the number of Ohioans dying every year from drug overdoses has more than doubled. We are among the top five states for opioid overdose deaths, with over 4,000 people dying in 2017 alone.

Yet not only have our elected officials continued the same war-on-drug policies that failed to prevent this crisis, some are supporting measures that could worsen it – such as pushing cuts to Medicaid expansion that insures over 700,000 Ohioans. Many tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which requires insurance companies to cover mental illness (including addiction) and protects patients with pre-existing conditions.

Issue 1 is an opportunity for us to stop waiting for politicians and start taking charge ourselves. That’s what the ballot box is for. If politicians aren’t willing to stop the crisis, then Ohioans must. I hope you’ll join me in voting for Issue 1.

Sharon Bryant, Youngstown

Issue 1 passage would hurt state’s drug courts

We urge you to vote “no” on state Issue 1 on Tuesday. We believe this constitutional amendment would harm rather than help those who struggle with drug addiction and the mental-health issues that commonly accompany addiction.

While proponents of Issue 1 have crafted reasons why it is a “good idea” which will benefit our state, those justifications crumble in the face of the real-world issues confronting those who suffer from addiction and those whose lives are dedicated to providing treatment and support.

We also happen to be volunteer members of your community who serve on the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board. However, we have been advised by the county prosecutor that state law prohibits “the Board” from taking political positions on state issues, and we respect that opinion. Nonetheless, as private citizens exercising our First Amendment rights, we feel compelled to speak against this proposed constitutional amendment.

We have observed firsthand the positive impact of the Mental Health and Recovery Board and the devoted work of its contract agencies in the face of the current epidemic. However well-meaning the proposed amendment, a misdemeanor citation for a “recreational” user will be tragically offset by the death or continued criminal conduct of the addict whose only realistic chance for recovery lies in the hands of one of the state’s felony drug courts.

Ask just about any graduate of Judge John Durkin’s drug court and don’t be surprised when he or she tells you, “He saved my life.” Passage of Issue 1 will greatly curtail the effectiveness of such felony drug courts as a matter of Ohio constitutional law.

Scott Fowler, Canfield and Bishop C.M. Jenkins, Youngstown

Twelve additional members of the Mahoning County Mental Health & Recovery Board signed this letter.