WORTHINGTON, OH—Since February 2017, citizens from Ohio’s 12th Congressional District have rallied every week at Rep. Pat Tiberi’s Worthington office to voice their opposition to Trump’s agenda. Jan. 11 marked the 50th rally, the last one before Tiberi’s resignation took effect. His final day was January 15.
Tiberi has consistently supported the Trump agenda, voting in line with Trump’s position more than 98 percent of the time. He was instrumental in attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which would have left millions uninsured. And he was an ardent supporter of the GOP tax bill, which will primarily benefit large corporations and the wealthy. Meanwhile, he repeatedly refused to attend town hall meetings with constituents to discuss these and other pressing issues, such as immigration and national security. It’s no surprise that Tiberi became a focal point for the frustration of so many central Ohioans.
At weekly rallies, constituents gathered first outside, displaying an array of colorful signs, and then moved into the representative’s office. They voiced concerns directly with Tiberi’s staff, delivered postcards with written complaints, and even had a bit of fun—spinning a “wheel of misfortune,” acting out skits, and issuing report cards. Constituents have attended these rallies tirelessly since February.
Meanwhile, constituents also have continuously flooded Tiberi’s local and Washington, DC, offices with calls, emails, and postcards. They have put up “Where’s Pat?” fliers in the district. And they have created a life-sized cardboard “Flat Pat,” which attended town hall meetings and other events even when the real Pat refused.
Tiberi is leaving the House to take a job with the Ohio Business Roundtable. It’s a move that has prompted questions about the ethics of his participation in tax law changes, since he and other roundtable members will benefit from the law.
Constituents are not sad to see him leave. “It was embarrassing that my representative was the so-called quarterback of the healthcare bill and helped write the GOP tax reform bill,” says Julie Mulroy of Granville (Licking County). “Even in the rural, predominately Republican part of the district where I live, few people supported either bill. I participated in these rallies to represent the numerous constituents from my area who were frustrated with Tiberi. It was definitely time for him to go.”
Rally participants are cautiously optimistic about the special election that will be held to replace Tiberi. “OH12 is a gerrymandered district—it’s odd shape gives Republicans a clear advantage,” says Cathy Bell of Columbus. “But there’s a lot of anti-Trump sentiment here, throughout the state, and throughout the country. If there’s ever been an opportunity for change here, it’s now.”
Still, constituents are resolved to hold their new representative accountable no matter who is elected. “This past year we’ve had harsh reminders that not all politicians act in our best interests,” says Sara Sampson, one of the leaders of Indivisible: Ohio District 12. “But we’ve gained some valuable experience in how to raise our voices. And our new representative will definitely hear from us.”
Follow Indivisible: Ohio District 12 on Twitter @OhioDistrict12 and monitor the hashtags #IndivisibleOH12 and #OH12.
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