Archived Story

Editorial: State representative candidate’s symbolic move shows promise

Published 11:57pm Friday, September 24, 2010

Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010

Cindy Ellis, the Democratic candidate challenging state Rep. Sharon Tyler, R-Niles, for the House District 78 seat, is offering up her first year’s salary to “implement a return to work resource program” exclusively for residents of the district if elected.

While we think one year of a state representative’s salary — just shy of $80,000 — is too small to truly make a dent in unemployment in the area, the symbolism of the move says a lot of positive things about Ellis’ priorities.

There is no greater threat to the long-term health of our state and our nation’s economy than high unemployment. Stimulus dollars are finite, and their impact is negated if the workforce doesn’t grow. With our state’s unemployment rate second in the nation, it’s time for creative thinking and untested solutions. We’re willing to gamble on Ellis’ idea, because what has been tried isn’t working.

In a press release issued Friday, Ellis said she would use her salary to “invest in state-of-the-art software that matches worker’s skills to jobs.” That in and of itself may not make much of an impact, but it shows she’s serious about the issue, and shows she’s open to new ideas — or at least increasing the focus on old ideas that do work.

Ellis said her plan includes conducting forums that bring together job seekers and employers, job training resources to help job seekers learn how to write a resume, develop interview skills and learn how to use today’s job-searching tools. Those things do work, and have for years. However, too many lawmakers simply want a “big gun” solution to unemployment. Her ideas are “baby step” solutions that will work if properly funded and properly managed. At the very least, what small impact those steps may have in our district could remind other lawmakers of their efficacy.

This mostly symbolic move — and it would be more than just symbolic if she could persuade others to take the same pledge — shows that Ellis has the right priorities heading into the general election.

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