I sat in on a round-table discussion with high-profile House Representative Jim Jordan during a stop he made in Bluffton (it's part of his Congressional District). Afterward, I interviewed him about the economy, healthcare, and so on for a newspaper article. He actually comes across as a pretty affable, down-to-earth guy.
I was asked to give talks on Immigration and Nuclear Energy during the Annual Midwest Regional American Solidarity Party Convention. I'm pictured here with the president of the Ohio Chapter of the ASP, John Das. (The convention was conducted in Ohio.)
This was the "Joe Table" at the American Solidarity Party Midwest Regional Convention. Besides my books and a display board with various campaign articles, what was perhaps most eye-catching was the mannequin with the Joe t-shirt and a cap that read: "JOEMANIA." And we're doing this all without paid marketing consultants! My wife, the 'Almost First Lady,' keeps telling me maybe I should get some. LOL, sort of.
I interviewed these two Ohio Northern University Pharmacy students in regard to their efforts to raise awareness about the growing drug problems (including opioids) in Ohio. They travel a three county area in a Mobile Health Clinic trying to spread the word. As a former addictions counselor, I'm quite versed (and have a comprehensive position) on how to majorly impact this problem area of society.
In 2018, I also carried on with another of my "average Joe" professions, house painting. This was one of my recent "master pieces" on North Jackson Street in Bluffton. It's titled: "Yellow House at Noon -- with the Title Changing by the Hour." How's that for creative?
Besides my work with the Bluffton News, I took a second reporting job covering nearby (12 miles south) Ada, Ohio too. This was an Ada Village Council Meeting where a new councilmember was being sworn in. Between the two villages, I now cover, for instance, four council meetings a month. Our platform, incidentally, calls for a realignment where there is just as much power, if not more, in the hands of these local officials as there is with the officials in the federal government. And from covering all these council meetings, over all these years, I have a good rudimentary understanding of the workings of town government.
While traveling Old Route 30 to one of my son's Friday night basketball games, I saw a group of men clustered outside Biggie's Restaurant in Cairo, Ohio. I stopped, passed out some campaign cards, and talked to them this night about guns, Trump (a number were Trump supporters), and my campaign in general. My son is in three sports, there's a lot of away contests, and I often combine my travels to these with campaigning along the way. [Synergy, maximizing my time, and, well, it continues to be a low budget campaign.]
When I do get to the games... Jon was the point guard on Bluffton High School's JV team this particular year. He's pictured here taking a short shot in the paint.
Every year, the local college has a "Student Fair" where they research and put together display boards on various societal topics. I usually try to go to learn what I can. This student put together an excellent display on "obesity" in America. (We're at a 33% obesity level as a country.) This, in turn, leads to all sorts of health problems. Our healthcare platform is heavy on prevention in the front end.
On Good Friday every year in Bluffton, people from multiple churches carry an old wooden cross throughout the town. I always make it a point to do a story on this because of what a spiritual witness it is.
I did a story about a local church group that sends members to Haiti every year to help there. It's one of the poorest countries in the world, and they described, in detail, some of the poverty, etc. My travels have only taken me to Juarez Mexico to see the poverty, violence, and so on there. However, consistently over the years God has intersected me with a good number of others who have been all over the world to help people in dire straits. It's been from this, reading, and so on, that I've crafted a Foreign Policy heavy with social justice help.
I interviewed the local college's Paul Nuefeld Weaver who helps head up the school's Cross Cultural Program. Students travel all over the globe, for three weeks to an entire semester, doing social justice outreach in the Mennonite tradition. Professor Weaver was just back from a trip to the country of Columbia where he and some students did inner city outreach work -- amidst high levels of poverty and drug cartel activity.
Speaking of city outreach work, my son Jonathan and a local electrician combined to put in lighting at a basketball court at a Youth for Christ facility in a hardscrabble area of Lima, Ohio. Jonathan also did fundraising for the lights.
Once the flood light was hooked up (see last entry), Jon joined in with some neighborhood kids for the inaugural night basketball game. (Jon is in the white sweatshirt on the far right.)
This couple owns the bicycle shop in downtown Bluffton. They had gone down to South Carolina to check out these new Elf bicycle/car vehicles. I interviewed them for a story about these, and couldn't help but think, given global warming, that this will be the new Presidential "limo." That is, after I win.
On miracles... As we've traveled over the years, we have experienced a fair amount of what can best be described as "miracles" along the way. Anyway, I was on my way to one of my son's basketball games and decided to make a brief stop to take a photo of this historical marker. (I was working on a newspaper story about the incident (jet fighter crashes) here back at the beginning of World War II. There hadn't been a cloud in the sky all day, as I recall. But just as I was lining up the shot, these clouds appeared over a cluster of trees -- where the planes had actually gone down. What does that first cloud look like? Yeah, that's what I thought too. This photo ran on the front page of the newspaper with the story.
I interviewed Ray Person, who is a Professor of Religion at Ohio Northern University, and also heads up a 20-acre farm co-op on the outskirts of Bluffton. He's Christian. And he believes his spirituality should influence his decisions around how he treats the land. They have organic gardens, free range chickens, heat with a non-polluting corn pellet stove, have a compost toilet... Our platform calls for a shift back to an agrarian based society, with small, environmentally conscious farming, like this.
I attended a local talk by a woman who wrote a book on human trafficking. She said it's prevelant these days, well, everywhere -- including in our backyard. Toledo (about an hour north) is a port city where people are brought in, then transported, if you will, south on the I-75 corridor. As president, I'd be extremely proactive in dealing with this issue.
I interviewed this man, who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Puerto Rico when he was a young adult. He said he saw, first hand, the election intimidation, and such, in Puerto Rico by heavy handed police and troops to ensure a certain candidates victory. He never neglects to vote here. And said people in America weren't aware of what a blessing it is to be able to vote our choice.
As I do practically every year, I attended a Memorial Day Ceremony. Our platform calls for getting as much help as possible for veterans. They risked their lives for us.
I sat in on a talk by one of the Catholic Church's Midwest Regional Vocation Directors. He's a big fan of, not only Pope Francis, but St. Francis as well -- as his rather unique vehicle attests.