Door-to-Door Democracy

Defending Democracy



Yes in November

At the heart of this issue was a clear decision: Do you want to protect your right to make your own reproductive health decisions or are you willing to hand over that power to the government? Throughout the campaign, our staff knocked on more than 60,000 doors, made nearly 100,000 phone calls, and urged voters to engage in the democratic process by making a plan to vote and supporting Issue 1 in November.

We heard stories from those who had been personally impacted by heart-wrenching decisions and impossible choices. We also heard stories from those who had witnessed the nightmare results that occurred years ago before access to reproductive health care was legal. Everyone had their own reasons for their vote.

No in August
Protected majority rule in Ohio with the One Person One Vote campaign which blocked an attempt to make it harder to pass constitutional amendments on the ballot. After HJR1/SJR2 put the measure on the ballot, Ohio Citizen Action and more than 250 ally groups won with 57% of the vote in a August Special election
Akron Mayoral

Endorsed Shamas Malik for Akron Mayor in the Democratic primary. We knocked on more than 10,000 doors in 6 weeks, more than half of what Malik's own campaign did. Malik won the campaign by more than double the votes as the runner up, becoming the presumed mayor during the primary and Akron's first mayor of color.


House Joint Resolution 6

Stopped House Joint Resolution 6, (later HJR1/SJR2 in 2023) a resolution meant to make it harder to pass citizen-led constitutional amendments, during the Lame Duck session at the end of the year. This success prevented opponents from putting the measure before voters in May of 2023, giving Ohio Citizen Action and allies more time to organize to defeat it.


Candidate Endorsements

After refraining from endorsements for 28 years, OCA endorsed a slate of candidates for the 2022 midterms including Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Greg Landsman (OH-01), Emilia Sykes (OH-D-13) for Congress, as well as Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-34) for state representative. All these candidates won their races.


Bribery and Corruption

Ohio Citizen Action has been a vocal opponent of House Bill 6 (HB6), a controversial energy bill that was passed in Ohio in 2019. The bill forced customers to pay to prop up failing nuclear and coal plants and weakened renewable energy and efficiency standards. In July 2020, Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four others were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering in connection with a $61 million bribery scheme aimed at passing House Bill 6. Update: On June 29, 2023 the maximum sentence was handed down to hold Householder accountable for his actions and bring him to justice. The very next day, former Ohio GOP Party Chairman Matt Borges received a five-year sentence.


Following the Money

Ohio Citizen Action became known as the preeminent organization following the money in Ohio politics and blowing the whistle on corruption, publishing studies, assisting reporters in uncovering the spider webs of campaign contributions, supporting key legislation to reform Ohio’s election and campaign finance laws.


Campaign Contributions

Ohio Citizen Action wins campaign to enact electronic reporting of campaign contributions in Ohio. This reveals discrepancies and omissions and gives reporters and citizens insight into who is behind politicians' campaigns for the first time in history. 


Term Limits

Ohio Citizen Action plays a key role in passing a successful constitutional ballot initiative to limit state legislators to two successive four-year terms. Our grassroots public education and get-out-the-vote efforts lead to a 68% majority for approval.


Fighting for the Environment


Power a Clean Future Ohio
In collaboration with Power a Clean Future Ohio (PCFO), Ohio Citizen Action organizes Ohioans to call for their communities to opt-in for sustainable and equitable clean energy strategies. By 2022, a third of Ohioans across the state live in communities who joined the campaign.


Renewable Energy Standards
House Bill 114 passes the House in March 2016, but thanks to citizen pressure, fails in the Senate. HB 114 would have made Ohio’s renewable energy targets voluntary for Ohio utilities to meet. Update: After passage of HB6 in 2019, the already modest standard was further modified so that 8.5 percent of electricity sold by Ohio’s electric distribution utilities or electric services companies must be generated from renewable energy sources by 2026.


Freeze on Renewable Energy Standards

After signing a two-year freeze on Ohio's renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, Gov Kasich responded to pressure from Ohio Citizen Action and allies by allowing the freeze to expire at the end of 2016. The freeze and a plan to force consumers to pay to keep alive expensive and outdated coal plants was promoted by utility companies (Duke, AEP, First Energy) in Ohio who stood to benefit by externalizing the cost of their bad business decisions onto consumers.


Mountain Top Removal Coal Mining
Ohio Citizen Action works with allies in Appalachia on a successful campaign to persuade the Obama administration to crack down on mountaintop removal coal mining. We made it part of the 2008 presidential campaign, eliciting pledges from all the candidates to address the wasteful destruction of natural resources and Appalachian lives from the practice, which involves demolition of mountainsides and dumping waste into nearby streams.


Challenging Dependence on Coal
Ohio Citizen Action plays key role in preventing American Municipal Power from building a new 1,000 megawatt pulverized coal plant in Meigs County. It would have been the fifth such coal plant in a 12-mile radius, adding to health problems like heart disease, cancer, asthma and COPD in Appalachian communities with limited access to hospitals.


Pollution Reduction at Coal-Fired Power Plants
Ohio Citizen Action, working with national environmental groups, Northeast states, and the U.S. EPA, settles the landmark lawsuit known as “Ohio Citizen Action et. al. v. AEP,” where American Electric Power agrees to spend $4 billion to invest in pollution reduction at its coal-fired power plants.


Sharing Success

Ohio Citizen Action publishes “Good Neighbor Campaign Handbook: How to Win”, which provides guidance and real-life examples of how citizens can work together to hold industrial neighbors accountable without lawyers, politicians or regulators. You can download the book for free here.


Good Neighbor Campaigns

Ohio Citizen Action pioneers “good neighbor campaigns” around the state, helping Ohioans win key investments in pollution prevention from major corporations, including:

  • Eramet Marietta’s pledge to invest $150 million to upgrade its facility and significantly reduce airborne manganese emissions and odors.
  • AK Steel’s decision to invest $66 million in new pollution control equipment at their huge steel mill in Middletown.
  • Rohm and Haas’ decision to eliminate 90% of their cancer-causing emissions and their on-going commitment to community involvement.
  • Brush Wellman’s implementation of safety measures to prevent workplace and community exposures to dangerous beryllium dust.
  • Sunoco’s commitment to spend $100 million to prevent emissions of sulfur dioxide and other pollutants from their Toledo refinery.
  • Good neighbor campaigns at Lanxess Corporation, Cincinnati Specialties, Columbus Steel Drum, Shelly Asphalt


Good Neighbor Campaigns
Ohio Citizen Action leads successful campaigns to prevent the siting of harmful solid waste incinerators in Montgomery County and helps pass landmark groundwater protection laws there, prevents a new “tire-melting” plant in Columbus, helps shut down the environmental outlaw General Environmental Management facility in Cleveland, helps prevent Perma-Fix corporation from burning deadly nerve gas in Dayton, and forces the River Valley High School in Marion to relocate from a hazardous waste dump.

Protecting Public Health


Removing Teflon
Ohio Citizen Action, working with Environmental Working Group, wins federal action to take Teflon products out of consumer products, and convinces WalMart and ConAgra to phase out the use of Teflon products in good packaging


Protecting Drinking Water

After a 1995 study by the Environmental Working Group  finds .4% more atrazine than the federal limit in 100% of taps sampled in Bowling Green, Ohio Citizen Action persuades that city and Columbus and to take steps to keep it out of drinking water.


Food Quality Protection Act

After three years of pressure by Citizen Action and others, Congress passes the Food Quality Protection Act to shield children from harmful pesticides in their diets, and thousands of letters from Citizen Action members persuades Ohio grocery chains, including Heinen’s, Kroger, Finast, Rini-Rego, Big Bear and Acme, to offer organic food grown without pesticides.

Mobilizing for Consumer Rights


Blocking Utilities Price Hikes
House Bill 239 attempted to increase mandatory, residential fixed rates on customers’ electric bills. This is yet another example of Ohio utility companies lobbying the state legislature to subsidize their energy costs, in order to increase their profits at the expense of customers’ pockets. HB 239 never passed thanks to pressure from OCA.


Electric Deregulation

Ohio Citizen Action campaigns successfully to put the community choice aggregation in the state electric deregulation law. The law was pushed by utilities who wanted increased competition for market share, but OCA wrote in aggregation to benefit consumers. Aggregation allows municipalities to pool all residents together into a single utility customer, then shop for the best deal. 


Workers' Compensation

Citizen Action, unions, injured workers, and trial attorneys win the first referendum vote in Ohio in 60 years. Voters rejected a new law to reduce injured workers compensation and make it harder to prove damage from chemical exposures.


Tort Reform Bill

After a two year legislative brawl, Citizen Action and others win victims-rights protections in an insurance industry “tort reform” bill, which sought to limit corporate liability in lawsuits.


Nuclear Regulation and Safety

Ohio Citizen Action helps win campaigns to stop two nuclear power plants in Ohio (Zimmer and Perry II) due to safety and financial issues. Later, when FirstEnergy’s Davis-Besse nuclear power plant on Lake Erie comes within an eighth of an inch of a nuclear meltdown, leads the campaign to force the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and FirstEnergy to confront safety violations.

Blocking Utilities Rate Hikes

Citizen Action plays a key role in stopping millions in rate hikes by Ohio utilities, including Columbia Gas, East Ohio Gas, Ohio Edison, Toledo Edison, and Cleveland Electric Illuminating Co.


Wins Settlement against Price-Fixing
Citizen Action wins the largest private consumer anti-trust settlement in U.S. history against three northeast Ohio grocery chains for price-fixing, resulting in a $20 million victory for a million Cleveland, Akron, and Lorain area households.


Labor Rights

Citizen Action begins a nationwide campaign to require advance notice of industrial plant closings, which devastated families and communities in the mid-1970s. Our proposed state legislation never passes, but becomes federal law in 1989 after being sponsored by Senator Howard Metzenbaum.

Training Generations of Activists

Ohio Citizen Action repeatedly takes action in federal court to preserve the First Amendment, when municipalities enact ordinances restricting door-to-door canvassing.

Ohio Citizen Action “alumni” go on to do great things, including running businesses and non-profit organizations, becoming doctors, lawyers, and teachers, getting elected to public office and taking leadership in their communities.


Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice

In our commitment to diversity and inclusion within the organization and in our work reaching out to Ohioans, Ohio Citizen Action works to provide monthly inclusive workspaces trainings to staff and continue to work toward a more equitable and just Ohio.



Training Organizers

Ohio Citizen Action and Ohio Citizen Action Education Fund conduct Good Neighbor Campaign Trainings in Cleveland, Cincinnati  and Toronto, Canada to provide local activists with practical experience researching polluters, creating strategy, building neighbor groups, working with media, accessing technical expertise and providing insight about how companies view and respond to complaints.


Metzenbaum Award

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Ohio Citizen Action establishes the Howard M. Metzenbaum Award, which has been awarded ever since to Ohioans who exemplify Senator Metzenbaum’s spirit of “principled tenacity.”


Professional, Permanent, and Persistent

Ohio Citizen Action runs continuous, year-round, door-to-door canvasses throughout the state, and adds a phone canvass in 1983 , training tens of thousands of new activists in community organizing skills. Most of the organization's top leadership has experience either knocking doors or on the phones, so they understand the tremendous potential of organizing to make change.