Horwitz: We must send Nina Turner to Congress this fall


Courtesy of The Hill

Cleveland local Nina Turner seeks to challenge the status quo in Congress on behalf of Cuyahoga County.

Avi Horwitz, Staff Columnist

If you’ve ever voted, you know the lesser-of-the-two-evils drill. So, when I walked out of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections after voting for Bernie Sanders in the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary, I thought it would be the last time for a while I’d have a chance to vote for a candidate that planned to fight to materially improve people’s lives. But, when I’m filling out my ballot for the Democratic Primary for the special election on Aug. 3, I’ll have the chance to do it again, this time for state Sen. Nina Turner. 

Turner is a lifelong Cleveland resident, who worked part-time from her mid-teens. After graduating from John F. Kennedy high school, she took jobs in retail and “flipping burgers” before going back to school and receiving degrees from Cuyahoga Community College and Cleveland State University. She’s already served her community as a Cleveland City Councillor from 2006 to 2008, and then as a state senator from 2008 to 2015, before going on to work with Sanders’ presidential campaigns as a surrogate in 2016 and a national co-chair in 2020. Now, she’s running in the special election to replace Rep. Marcia Fudge to represent Ohio’s 11th district and, in her own words, “build an America as good as its promise.” 

As her platform shows, Turner clearly understands the burdens facing both members of her district and Americans all over the country. As a fierce proponent of Medicare for All, if sent to Congress, she’d without a doubt fight for the nearly 70,000 people in OH-11 without health insurance and countless others who are held back by unpaid bills or unable to receive the care they need. COVID-19 has caused millions to lose their employer-provided health insurance, illustrating the dire need for a single-payer system. Her outspoken support of Medicare for All is one of the reasons Turner has the endorsement of National Nurses United.

Turner is vocal about policies such as canceling student debt, investing in affordable housing and guaranteeing free public college, and has long been an ally of the working class. She understands the power of a strong labor movement, and therefore the importance of increasing union membership. She has racked up the endorsements of the Amalgamated Transit Union, and the Bakers, Confectionery and Tobacco Workers Union Local 19, as well as the Communication Workers of America Local 4340 and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

Turner knows that millions of good jobs and a modern public transportation system can be payoffs from a Green New Deal that will help us tackle the existential threat of climate change. Just as with healthcare and housing, Turner believes that everyone deserves access to clean air and water. Her strong support has been recognized by local hubs of the Sunrise Movement, a process in which I had the opportunity to participate. From the face time at a meeting she attended in February to her current campaigning, it is evident she understands the power of movements and will not only take our fight to Congress but also back us up in the streets.

As many Democratic politicians are aware, it’s one thing to use empty platitudes and pay lip service to popular policies. There are few, however, that will actually champion the positions they allege to represent––to hell with the consequences. With Turner in Congress, there’d be much less of a need to worry. 

Back in her days on the Cleveland City Council, Turner “risked her career” by supporting a government reform initiative that she was advised to avoid by establishment figures. When it was on the ballot in 2009, voters approved it overwhelmingly. 

Coupled with the policy that meets the moment, the determination to be a people’s champion above all else is what gives voters a unique opportunity in this upcoming special election. We must make sure that Turner is next in line to represent Ohio’s 11th district in Congress.