Ohio Citizen Action resumes field canvassing after 14-month pandemic hiatus

As president of the board of Ohio Citizen Action, I’m so pleased to announce that today we resume field canvassing.

When we suspended our field operation in March 2020, we knew it was the right thing to do to protect our staff and families as well as the public. However, we worried about how our decision would affect our bottom line and our campaigns, which rely upon informing and engaging as many Ohioans as possible.

It was a challenge to face the $250,000 budget hole left from losing contributions made at the door. But our members really showed up for us and helped us to raise $46,907 in just seven weeks, most of it $25, $50 or $100 at a time.

We also had support to invest in expanding our phone and digital outreach. That made a huge difference in filling the information and organizing gap left by suspending field canvassing. Fortunately, that capacity will remain now that we’re restarting fieldwork.

I’ve been out with field canvassers myself and I’ve seen the power of connecting with people face-to-face. Our canvassers don’t use lists, which means we’re talking to people from all social, political and economic groups from all over the state. That’s important, because we recognize the inequitable distribution of environmental and consumer burdens and benefits. We need everyone’s help to improve the quality of life for all Ohioans and to better balance power between decision makers and people affected by their decisions.

We don’t make the decision to restart field canvassing lightly. We do so now because the combination of COVID vaccination rates rising, new cases falling and the success of other canvass-based groups restarting their field operations gives us confidence we can do this safely and successfully.

So look for us soon, on a front porch near you.

- Dick Wittberg, Ohio Citizen Action board president