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City Council Series: Leslie Heath in Support of Library Censorship?

Issue Background

UAPA agrees with the UA Public Library’s philosophy that “…everyone matters and is respected.“ And we support its goal, which is “…to have an unbiased collection representing many points of view…”

However, in Upper Arlington, there is a growing intolerance of others’ views by a small, vocal minority influenced by outgoing Council member Tim Rankin. One of the most egregious examples is the 2005 dispute about the distribution of gay publications at the Upper Arlington Public Library. A group of conservatives tried to sway the Library Board with the claim they were protecting children.

The trustees stood by the First Amendment. However, that may not be true in the future. City Council members have a huge influence on which volunteers are selected for UA boards such as the Library Board of Trustees. Three members are due to end their Library Board terms in 2008, which could allow Council to “pack” the board with trustees who are ultra-rightwing.

As progressives, we must see the big picture. The 2007 Council campaign does not end with the election of three members. The election results have a lasting impact on the quality of our lives in many arenas.

Candidate Spotlight

The U.S. Constitution permits freedom of expression, as numerous legal opinions have reinforced. However, UA City Council candidate Leslie Heath apparently expects our elected officials to disregard the First Amendment. In a September 14, 2005, letter to the Upper Arlington News, she disagreed with the UA Public Library board of trustees’ decision to continue to distribute two publications that came under attack by Council member Tim Rankin and others.

In the letter, “Library board failed to uphold UA’s values,” Heath claimed that “… this is not a legal dilemma.” She called for the trustees to ignore legal opinions from the Upper Arlington city attorney and the Franklin County prosecutor’s office!

That raises the question: If elected, will Leslie Heath seek to have Council ignore any legal opinion that she disagrees with?

The second question: Will Leslie Heath continue Tim Rankin’s divisive agenda? He is quoted in the same September 14, 2005, Upper Arlington News as declaring that “There is a lot of talk about doing what is legally right … it’s up to the board to do what is morally right … If we have to put people on this board who reflect the values of this community, we’ll do that.”

We feel that Leslie Heath’s disrespect of city residents' First Amendment rights does not reflect the values of the progressive UA community.

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