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Canton Hosts Candidates For the 7th And 16th Districts At Town Hall For Our Lives

photo of Mark Dent, Grand Goodrich, Aaron Godfrey, T.J. Mulloy, Patrick Pikus, Patrick Quinn
Democrat Mark Dent (standing) addresses the crowd at Congregational United Church of Christ in Canton during the Town Hall For Our Lives. He's running for the 16th district, as are (right to left, seated) Grant Goodrich, T.J. Mulloy, and Aaron Godfrey.

More than 100 communities held town hall events over the weekend as an extension of last month’s March For Our Lives against gun violence.

In Canton, Chloe Downerd, a senior at Jackson High School, wanted the audience to remember to vote, adding “it’s never too young to start getting involved in things. Even if you can’t vote, you can have a voice.”

Downerd organized the event, inviting Congressman Bob Gibbs and all the other candidates running in the 7th district. She also invited the candidates running in the 16th district for the seat being vacated by Jim Renacci. Karyn Talbot-Russ attended the town hall with her teenage son, and they live in the 16th. She says that even though the district stretches from Cleveland to Canton, she feels solutions to gun violence can work anywhere.

“Kids are kids, wherever they are. They have mental health issues or they don’t. They have fears or they don’t. They’re teenagers. They’re human teenagers. Where the problem I have is, is their ability to access those weapons and then bring them into the school.”

Organizer Chloe Downerd helped moderate the discussion, and wanted to ask the candidates about not only gun violence, but several other topics as well.

“I enjoyed talking about healthcare and all the different topics. Some things that we did skip over [were] immigration. So it was really nice to open myself up to all these different views; all these different topics going into this. And I actually changed my mind about college and now I’m minoring in Political Science.”

None of the Republican candidates from the 16th showed up, but four of the six Democrats were there. All are hoping to replace Jim Renacci, who is running for the U.S. Senate. In the 7th district, incumbent Bob Gibbs was not present, while one of two Republican challengers, Patrick Quinn, was there along with one of the two Democratic candidates, Patrick Pikus.

Early in-person voting for the May 8 primary begins tomorrow morning.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.