Prizm News / April 27, 2018 / By Bob Vitale

Stephanie Dodd, who’s running for lieutenant governor, says officials in her home county should light the courthouse in rainbow colors this June.

By Bob Vitale

Stephanie Dodd is the running mate of Democrat Joe Schiavoni.

The running mate of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joe Schiavoni today blasted elected officials in her home county as “bigoted” for denying a request from Newark Pride organizers to light the courthouse in rainbow colors.

Stephanie Dodd, a Buckeye Lake resident who’s running for lieutenant governor in Ohio’s May 8 Democratic primary, called on Licking County commissioners to reverse course on a policy they adopted after a March request from Pride organizers. She also called on Commissioners Rick Black, Timothy E. Bubb and Duane Flowers to apologize to Licking County’s LGBTQ residents.

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“Licking County, and Ohio, cannot afford those who constantly want to live in the past and shun members of our community,” said Dodd, a member of the State Board of Education. “We need to move forward and recognize that we are all valuable members of this community. Our common goal should be to move forward, together.”

Prizm has asked Black, Bubb and Flowers to respond to Dodd’s statement.

Licking County commissioners adopted a policy early this month that called for programmable new LED lights on the 140-year-old courthouse to be use different colors in observance of 18 federal holidays and other occasions such as the spring equinox and Diabetes Awareness Week.

Newark City Council member Sean Fennell, who emailed commissioners in March to ask for rainbow lighting the city’s first Pride celebration on June 9, has accused commissioners of adopting the policy in response to his request.

Fennell and other Pride organizers plan to address commissioners on Tuesday.

Dodd’s full statement reads:

“The newly-renovated Licking County Courthouse is a special place for residents. It’s visible from miles away for those approaching Newark, which is a reflection of the generations of all Licking Countians who have called this place home.

“Newark City Councilman Sean Fennell recently made a simple request of the Licking County Commissioners to recognize LGBTQ Pride Week through a courthouse lighting. The courthouse belongs to the LGBTQ community like it does anyone else. The Commissioners shamefully chose to substitute their own bigoted views for what was best for Licking County and then tried to duck what they had perpetrated.

“Licking County has tremendous attributes to market to, and attract, Ohioans who want to work, live and raise a family in a safe community with good schools and a strong infrastructure. However, our efforts to make ourselves attractive to others will be meaningless if we actively work to exclude people because of how they were born or whom they love.

“Licking County, and Ohio, cannot afford those who constantly want to live in the past and shun members of our community. We need to move forward and recognize that we are all valuable members of this community. Our common goal should be to move forward, together.

“I am calling on the Licking County Commissioners to light the courthouse in recognition of LGBTQ Pride annually and to issue an apology to Councilman Fennell and members of Licking County’s LGBTQ community.”

Bob Vitale
A Toledo native and graduate of Toledo Public Schools, Bob has worked as a local government and politics reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, as a Washington correspondent for Thomson Newspapers and as editor-in-chief for Outlook Ohio. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science from Ball State University and a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.