NEW ATHENS – Current presence and new were on center stage at last Thursday’s Annual Lincoln Day Dinner, held once again at New Athens’ Franklin Museum. Along with Representative, Andy Thompson (R-District 95) and Mary DeGenaro of Ohio’s 7th District Court of Appeals, the large crowd took up every seat on hand to hear retired military and newly elected Senator, Frank Hoagland (R-District 30) and Ohio Supreme Court Justice, Sharon Kennedy speak on the topics of today.
Vice Chairman of the Harrison County Republican Party, Barry Momeyer introduced the guest speakers while throwing in a few zingers himself, which partisan rhetoric seemed to be slightly heavier than in past years.
Momeyer, before introducing the night’s keynote speaker stated how much he enjoyed introducing Hoagland and, “no longer do we have Lou Gentile there now, we have our representative for our district here, right here right now.” And when introducing Kennedy he joked that she was the “only liberal sounding name we can vote for,” which drew a healthy laugh.
Kennedy spoke first commenting on her new, shorter-hair look and contact lenses and joking that some in the crowd might not have recognized her. She thanked the audience for inviting her back again and remembering her. Kennedy began by touching on her beginnings in Harrison County, which she said was 2011 and where she began working on the Bench back in 1999.
“And I came here because I could see the future,” she said confidently. “You’re standing in the midst of the future as I told you then.” She said that her branch of government (judicial) “represents” a limited voice within the government. She spoke of the Constitution and the unalienable rights written by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence.
Kennedy spoke of the Federalist Paper No. 78, where it states that the judicial branch is the “least dangerous branch because we do not raise a standing army nor can we raise a tax.” But she contradicted that statement by stating that it could be dangerous.
She spoke of a “magical pen” and how her branch of government could be dangerous if it did not show judicial restraint noting President Ronald Reagan’s emphasis on a branch of checks and balances minus liberal or conservative leanings.
“And we believe, as President Reagan did that the men and women don a black robe have a limited role in our government to enforce the law as it’s written…” Kennedy explained.
She also spoke of the turnover within the state’s highest court through election commending the public’s help in doing so and the changes that have followed.
“But you’re only halfway through the change…,” she said, adding that three new justices by 2022 will need to be elected.
“It’s up to you to decide what the role in the third branch of government should be.”
Hoagland followed by thanking God as his first thought shared and thanking God for his wife and family and for living in “the United States of America,” which drew huge applause. He said his heroes were the other men and women who served in the armed forces and the importance of that service “but as soon as you take that uniform off it doesn’t mean you stop serving.”
“It’s not about me, it’s not about Frank Hoagland,” he told the large crowd. “It’s about people like my father who fought in Vietnam, they’re my heroes. These men and women who served and crossed the sea on distant lands wrote that blank check saying they would be willing to die for our Constitution. Those are the men and women who are my heroes.”
Hoagland acknowledged his peers, the ones he said stood on each side of him and noted that they were the ones who taught him how “important to be part of a team.”
“Our motto is team, teammate, self,” he said while emphasizing self in that sentence. He also reminded the crowd that, “our freedom is not free” while speaking of the many men and women currently serving around the world guarding posts night and day.
Hoagland said his ambition was to be a Navy Seal because he heard they were “the toughest.” He began the journey, though, with three broken toes on his left foot and said the doctor basically questioned his intelligence in wanting to do something like this.
He then touched on his senate experience and what it was like working in Columbus. He said that after spending 29 years working for the government as a military man he spelled it out in plain English: “We never have enough time for what we need to get done. Every place I’m supposed to be at I need to be somewhere else.”
He also touched on fighting the war on drugs beginning in the 1980s and the men lost while chasing Pablo Escobar, who was eventually hunted down and killed by Columbian Police and other military forces. He was reminded one time of the fact that as long as there were people in America willing to take drugs there was someone in another country willing to provide it.
“We together have to figure out the solution,” Hoagland explained and ended his speech to a standing ovation.