Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Help Defeat a Creationist in Ohio

November 7th is election day around the country, with many Senatorial and Congressional seats up for grabs. But in Ohio, there is also a crucial battle going on for seats on the state board of education. In particular, Deborah Owens Fink, the primary force behind the push to get ID into public schools there one way or another for the last 5 years, is up for reelection. And unlike the last election, this time she has serious opposition in former congressman Tom Sawyer. Sawyer is the former mayor of Akron, a former state legislator and an 8 term US congressman from Ohio.

Sawyer’s bonafides for a board of education seat are impressive. He is a former school teacher, and husband of a school teacher. He was the chairman of the House Education Committee during his time in the state legislature of Ohio, and was a member of the education committee in the US House of Representatives as well. So this is a guy who brings an enormous amount of experience to the job, which has Owens Fink scared.

This is the first serious challenger she’s had in her career on the board of education. How has she reacted? By denigrating the importance of the board of education itself! In an August 14th article by the Gongwer News Service (a legislative reporting service in Ohio), she is quoted:

Ms. Owens Fink, who has previously run unopposed, noted Mr. Sawyer hasn’t had much political success since losing re-election to Congress following redistricting.

“In his previous elections, he hasn’t done very well. I guess he needs a job,” she said. “If he doesn’t win this one then he can run for dog catcher.”

I guess Owens Fink thinks that serving on the state board of education is a big step down from Congress, and just a small step above dog catcher. Small wonder, since Owens Fink has spent most of her time on the board serving as a lapdog for the Discovery Institute, pushing their anti-science agenda with zeal and vigor. Sawyer, however, recognizes the importance of serving on the BOE:

People ask why a former congressman would run for school board. I say, isn’t it high time the Board of Education was that important?

I urge my readers in Ohio not only to vote for Sawyer, but to get involved in his campaign. There are many things you can do, from handing out campaign information to answering phones to donating money to help the campaign. If you just want to help out financially, go to his campaign website and follow the prompts. Or send a donation directly to:

Martin Spector, Treasurer
4040 Embassy Pkwy, Suite 500, Akron, OH 44333

If you want to volunteer your time, contact Steve Weeks at eul1993@hotmail.com. He is the volunteer coordinator for the campaign. And for information about other races in Ohio, visit the website of Ohio Hope.

School board elections in Ohio are not partisan, those who run do not declare a party platform, so it doesn’t matter what your political affiliations are. All that matters is that you recognize the danger of allowing Owens Fink and her fellow creationists to play with the state science standards and water them down further, and that you recognize the importance of keeping science education strong in Ohio and the rest of the nation.


  1. #1 kehrsam
    August 28, 2006

    I started working in D.C. in 1987, the same year Sawyer arrived. What Ed’s summary of the race neglects to say is that Tom is one of the truly nice guys to make it in politics. I used to be a fill-in on his office softball team, as my office didn’t have one. Great group.

    He got screwed out of his seat by redistricting, so I’m happy to hear that he’s staying with his commitment to public service. Akron — a traditionally Republican city — had a great run in Congress from 1970 to 2000, with first John Seiberling and then Sawyer. Pretty classy run.

  2. #2 Paul Merda
    August 28, 2006


    Thanks for the heads up on this issue. I was born and raised in Akron,Ohio and have become quite concerned about our “red-state” status. I’ll be there to vote for Tom…


    Thanks for the Akron plug, decent place to live… Akron is most certainly more republican than it used to be, since the manufacturing jobs left it hasn’t been as blue collar.

  3. #3 Jeff
    August 28, 2006

    Slightly off-topic, is the candidate for Ohio Governor, Ken Blackwell, a creationist? He definitely is running with a religious-right platform, and has made some statements that are profoundly fundie Christian.

    Anyone know what statements he has made about creationism?

  4. #4 llDayo
    August 28, 2006

    I’ve helped out on a couple of recent campaigns in my area and I must say one of the biggest needs of any campaign is BODIES (live ones)! Even something simple as going from door to door with handouts highlighting the important contributions the candidate will make/has made is a very powerful way to reach the people! It shows that there are others out there who support the candidate and puts a personality they can relate to. Grass-roots campaigning will deliver a win if done properly, and avoid the mud-slinging. The opponent can throw crap all they want and if you don’t attack back (maybe just defend the heaviest hitters), the opposition will begin to look like an arrogant bully.

  5. #5 Ed Brayton
    August 28, 2006


    Yes, Blackwell is a creationist. I’m pretty sure he’s even a young earther.

  6. #6 RBH
    August 28, 2006

    Thanks for the plug, Ed.

    And by no coincidence whatsoever, Steve Weeks is a Project Steve Steve, right next to Steven Weinberg on the list. 🙂

  7. #7 Prup aka Jim Benton
    August 29, 2006

    Blackwell is FAR worse than that. He is a dominionist. I would hope anyone from Ohio would read the post “Uncommon Sense” he put on the Ohio Sec. of State’s website, and read it VERY carefully. At first it sounds like high minded platitudes, but once you look at what it means, particularly section 7 and the last few, you’ll see what it comes down to is a form of Christian Maoism. (Among his other points is that the ‘Person of Character” doesn’t need privacy since he is doing nothing to be ashamed of, and therefore his life should be open at all times to scrutiny. Some of the comments on ‘unity’ are as bad.

    This is a VERY dangerous man — and as the 2004 election shows, unscrupulous. He really HAS to be defeated.

  8. #8 luna_the_cat
    August 29, 2006

    Thanks for flagging up this campaign. Tom Sawyer deserves support; there are few enough sensible, decent and scientifically literate people in politics, sadly.

    Speaking of which, yes, Ken Blackwell is not only crooked, he’s as scary as they come. Check out his support posse:

  9. #9 bourgeois_rage
    August 29, 2006

    Thanks for the focus on Ohio.

    I hope you don’t mind me plugging for Bill Peirce, then next Ohio Governor.

  10. #10 Prup aka Jim Benton
    August 29, 2006

    Bourgeois rage:
    This ain’t my blog, of course, and if it were, I wouldn’t mind if you argued for Blackwell, since free discussion is important. And as it stands, Strickland is so far ahead of Blackwell that the usual miniscule number of votes the Libertarians pull won’t make any difference. But after the Nader fiasco in 2000 and with the current Green Party problem in Pennsylvania (where every single contribution to the party was made by Republicans except for $30 from the candidate himself, and where the 5% of the vote the party may pull actually means there is a slightly better chance that Santorum will survive) I’m personally very leery about third parties these days.

    After six years of Bush and the Republican Congress wreaking havoc on the country, the average American and the Constitution, the argument that ‘both parties are the same’ is more and more obviously a ploy by the Republicans to cut down on turnout, which favors them.

  11. #11 stogoe
    August 29, 2006

    If we had instant runoff voting, I’d vote Green first, and Dem second. But we don’t, so I vote Dem. Especially after what’s going on in PA. I think many anti-Nader Democrats are just bitter that Gore didn’t fare well in the media stabbings, but on the other hand, the PA Greens know they’re tools, and are smug about it.

  12. #12 bourgeois_rage
    August 29, 2006

    Prup, I’ve heard the argument against 3rd party voting many times over. I’ve come to accept that some people won’t ever vote for a 3rd party for various reasons. On the other hand, I find voting for 3rd parties to be my freedom. If I eliminate voting for 3rd parties myself, then the strategy of “throwing my vote away” will have worked.
    In my opinion, Peirce is the most qualified. And for me not to vote for Peirce would be dishonest to myself. I can respect those who vote for the “lesser of two evils,” but that’s not for me. All I really ask of most people is to be informed when they vote.

  13. #13 Prup aka Jim Benton
    August 30, 2006

    We don’t disagree that much, and certainly I would agree one hundred percent with your last statement. I HAVE voted for third parties myself, in fact I probably will in this year’s NY Senate race, as much to lessen the Hilary majority as for any other reason. But when a race is close — which the Ohio Gov. election doesn’t seem to be — I can only say that it is also important to consider the possible effect of your action, and remember that ‘the perfect is often the enemy of the good.’

  14. #14 RBH
    August 30, 2006

    As of this week, the Rasmussen poll has Strickland leading Blackwell among likely voters 57%-32%. They don’t report error bars, but in a poll that size they’d be around +/- 5%, so it’s at least a 15% lead.

  15. #15 C. L. Hanson
    September 4, 2006

    It’s good that you guys are spreading information about these campaigns.

    I don’t like the two-party system, but the idea that the Democrats and the Repubicans are the same is certainly not true at the moment.

    I’ve posted some discussion of third-party politics and the US electoral system over on my blog:

    Confessions of a former Nader voter, part 1
    Confessions of a former Nader voter, part 2

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