Mike Bloomberg’s campaign team opened an Athens office Saturday with supporters placing an emphasis on mitigating climate change and building a strong coalition to defeat President Donald Trump.
The launch party for the office, located at 9 W. Stimson Ave., featured speakers who all emphasized Bloomberg’s ability to combat both national and state issues for Ohioans, like opioid addiction.
The featured speaker was Ohio University alumnus and architect Maya Lin. Lin, who has worked with Bloomberg for about 20 years at Bloomberg Philanthropies, said she has seen firsthand the work that Bloomberg has done in New York and knows he can do the same as president.
Lin also highlighted Bloomberg’s “unprecedented” economic stimulation of New York City and institutional education reforms.
“In education, over 100,000 school seats were added and a record 4,000 preschools opened,” Lin said. “22 of the top 25 performing schools in the state are now in New York City, or were at the time when Mike was there since 2005.”
Other speakers highlighted what they believe is Bloomberg’s ability to combat crises, such as the opioid crisis in Ohio.
Luke Feeney, mayor of Chillicothe, said his town was the first stop Bloomberg made in Ohio. He appreciated Bloomberg speaking directly to the people of Chillicothe about the opioid crisis during round tables and believes his empathy, combined with mayoral experience, makes him qualified to beat Trump.
“Mike sat there and he listened. He listened to families. He asked important questions. And you could tell he was really wanting to know how southern Ohio was affected,” Feeney said.
Lin also said the opioid crisis is largely affecting rural areas such as Athens, and that Bloomberg has a plan to combat it.
“He knows we're (in a) crisis moment,” Lin said. “And I think he's going to really focus on helping just get things done to really help people with addiction, destigmatize it to get help when they need it. I mean, there's like a huge platform, which I think is … very strong.”
Another one of Bloomberg’s plans would also get America to be carbon neutral by 2050, Lin said. She said that plan would resonate well with the people of Athens who are concerned about fracking and coal in the area.
“That is probably why I'm here. It's for the environment. I care deeply. I'm very concerned,” Lin said. “And I feel that we have very little time left. And I think Mike has proven that he can work to focus on all aspects of dealing with climate change and grow our economy because that's important.”
The opening was also met by protesters holding signs criticizing Bloomberg, including some that read “Black Lives Matter” and “Bloomberg knew what stop & frisk would do.”
Kailee Missler, a senior studying strategic communication, said she was disappointed that Bloomberg was the first primary candidate to open an office in such a politically active city and that Bloomberg was only able to do so because of his enormous wealth.
“He has done some horrendous things and they should not be ignored,” Missler said. “The narrative should not be ‘Mike Bloomberg opens office in small town’. It's ‘Mike Bloomberg buys the Democratic Party’, because that is what he is doing.”
Everyone is welcome to support whoever they want in the primary election, Meredith Tucker, communication director for Bloomberg, said.
Lin said she was glad Bloomberg apologized for stop and frisk, and she believes his apology was genuine.
“There was a lot of good that he did do, and I believe him that when he says that he is not only aware how wrong he was, that he's going to make amends,” Lin said. “What he will put in place to focus our attention and our monies on criminal reform system is hugely important.”