(Note: Voting on Friday, May 5, Ohio Education Association Representative Assembly delegates elected Jim Timlin as OEA’s Secretary-Treasurer and re-elected Marsh Buckley as a National Education Association Director from Ohio. Both men are members of northeastern Ohio locals and the North Eastern Ohio Education Association.)
Voting results for the recent elections hadn’t even been officially announced last week when a friend from outside NEOEA congratulated me on the election results. “It’s a good night for you and your colleagues,” he told me.
I knew what he meant, of course. Candidates don’t win offices in the state’s largest public employee union without effective planning and leadership. Both candidates had good campaign plans, and NEOEA leaders did an effective job of making sure that NEOEA delegates voted. My friend was congratulating me on an outcome that my elected leaders had worked toward, and which I had supported (off hours, of couse) as a retired volunteer. My friend meant the compliment well, and I accepted it as graciously as I could; but he had it wrong.
The election of Jim and re-election of Marsh were a triumph for NEOEA only if they were the right choices for OEA. If somehow they prove to be the wrong choices for OEA over the next three years, northeastern Ohio members will suffer just as much as our colleagues throughout the rest of the state. Not that I expect that to happen: I’m sure they’ll serve well and make all of us proud. But my point is simple: NEOEA doesn’t win unless OEA wins.
There are those throughout OEA who fear NEOEA because our wealth and size create power. (More on that in another column some other time.) NEOEA’s delegation is the largest among OEA’s district associations, but it’s a highly diverse, independent-minded group. Since the ballot is secret, just holding onto the base is a challenge for most NEOEA candidates. And since we don’t have anywhere near a majority of the delegate votes, a candidate from NEOEA has to both energize his or her base and earn votes from other parts of the state. Both Jim and Marsh did that.
The point? Our candidates didn’t win because of NEOEA’s size and wealth. They won because they were strong candidates who ran good campaigns. The May 5 election wasn’t a victory of NEOEA over the rest of the state; it was a victory for all of us and for public education in Ohio.