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Erich Who?

By Tony Cook · March 10th, 2004 · Burning Questions
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Who is Erich Streckfuss? You might have seen his name on the Democratic primary ballot March 2, but you weren't likely to see him anywhere else. His strategy consisted of an endorsement from the Democratic Party but not much more. But it worked. He defeated activist Kabaka Oba with 63 percent of the vote.

At age 20, the University of Cincinnati student isn't old enough to drink but says he's ready to run Hamilton County. CityBeat caught up with Streckfuss after class to discuss his quest to become a Hamilton County Commissioner.

Did you campaign much?

"Not very much."

Did you have any yard signs or go to any candidate forums?

"No."

I understand you might serve as a placeholder for another candidate who the party might put in your place.

"That still remains to be seen. It hasn't been settled yet who that candidate might be or if that definitely will happen. When I took the task on and put my name on the ballot, that was the initial understanding."

So, your platform was, "Nominate me and I won't run."

"Absolutely not.

I think we have a historic opportunity to take that seat back and I didn't want that wasted. That really was my platform -- that we need a better chance to win this race."

Do you mean a better chance than Kabaka Oba?

"Right."

Do you think you'll be able to beat Pat DeWine?

"I'll certainly be willing to do my best. I'm looking forward to the campaign. DeWine has certain advantages, but the Republicans in their primary were more interested in flinging mud at each other than talking about the issues. I think people want to talk about the mismanagement of the budget of the county government (and) the declining population in Hamilton County."

Anything else voters should know?

"The Republicans have been running this county for the length of modern memory, and all we have to show for it are higher taxes and a mismanaged budget. I think people are tired of seeing deals like the Bengals stadium that was completely mismanaged from the beginning and continues to be completely mismanaged. Now the county is paying for artificial turf because they can't grow their own grass. And the David Krings contract, where he gets a $600,000 severance package if he's fired for any reason -- even if there is just cause. I think those are the issues that people are really interested in hearing about."

But DeWine talks a lot about those two things.

"Oh, I know he talks about that, but I don't think he really has the record to back himself up on that."

You don't really have a record to back up your claims.

"Right."

So what would you tell voters?

"I'd say to voters they need to give Democrats another chance."

A lot of people might dismiss you because you're young.

"Well, I think I'd bring a renewed energy to the county. Issues that the county's facing as a whole are issues that people I'm going to school with right now are facing. I don't hear many people saying, 'After I get my degree, I'm going to stay in Cincinnati or in Hamilton County.' "

Do you find the student body educated about the election?

"Unfortunately, no. There are so many people who didn't even know there was an election."

How do you think your run for commissioner will affect your long-term political aspirations?

"It's interesting. It's like being thrown into the deep end of the pool. People don't expect to see a 20-year-old out there running countywide. I think it will give me a lot of experience. At least 24,000 people know who I am now. That's a great stepping stone."



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