In the new year: Fight against COVID and climate change and strengthen our democracy

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2021 started with turmoil over the presidential election results. Jan. 6 and the days that followed showed us it was going to be a crazy year.

We also began the year hoping recently authorized vaccines would end COVID, but as the seasons changed, there were still too many people shunning the vaccine.

We’re thrilled that 59% of people living in Summit County are fully vaccinated – that puts us ahead of the Ohio average and some neighboring counties. We hope that more people will find the assurances they need and join the ranks of the vaccinated.

Following are more hopes and wishes we have for 2022.

Address climate change

Leaders at U.N. climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, say they made incremental progress after several days of talks in November, but several countries are deeply disappointed in a watered-down policy that would “phase down” rather than “phase out” coal power, a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

Coal still has friends in Ohio, of course. Thanks to House Bill 6, Ohioans will subsidize two coal-fired power plants with their monthly electric bills through 2030.

There’s been a partial repeal of HB 6 after corruption was uncovered, but we’d like to see coal-plant bailouts removed and clean energy standards spelled out clearly by our state leaders.

Ensure fair elections

U.S. Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Urbana certainly doesn’t speak for the rest of Ohio when he continues to support former President Donald Trump’s false claims about voter fraud. Neither does U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel, who emphasized in October that he believes the election was stolen from Trump.

We’ve said it before: There's no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

We join Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose in defending our state's elections as well-run.

We wish — like the Ohio voters who have embraced the practices — for the continued use of absentee ballots and ballot drop boxes. We also hope Ohio Republicans are unsuccessful in adding identification requirements and reducing the early voting period.

End gerrymandering

Here’s something we wish our state Republicans would emphasize: fair legislative district maps.

The state is awaiting rulings from the Ohio Supreme Court on whether newly drawn congressional maps and state legislative maps meet constitutional requirements.

The politicians in power — Republicans — are still drawing districts that favor their party over the other, despite constitutional changes approved by voters. For example, Democratic votes for Congress would be weakened in Summit County, which would be split into three districts.

The court, civic groups and the voters could act to pressure legislators into ending gerrymandering in Ohio. Will 2022 be the year?

Get out and vote

State and federal officeholders will determine what’s next on key issues. It’s imperative that Ohioans cast their votes in 2022.

The governor's race is among the things to watch in upcoming state and federal races. Mayors John Cranley of Cincinnati and Nan Whaley of Dayton are seeking the Democratic nomination. On the Republican side, former Wadsworth mayor and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci is challenging incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine, as is Canal Winchester farmer Joe Blystone. You've also heard by now that a host of others are joining former state treasurer Mandel in the Republican Senate race — former Ohio GOP Chair Jane Timken, author J.D. Vance and state Sen. Matt Dolan among them. The leading Democrats are U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and attorney Morgan Harper. Don’t forget to be counted in these and other races and issues.

Democracy and civility

The one-year anniversary of the Capitol insurrection is Thursday.

Most of the rioters came from a nearby rally where Trump urged listeners to “fight like hell” to overturn election results. This is not how democracy works. Joe Biden won fair and square, like it or not.

On a related note, there's too much irresponsible talk regarding the pandemic. Some call COVID-19, which has killed 820,000 in the U.S., a hoax, with people clinging to the preposterous notion that the vaccines are more dangerous than the virus.

Whether it's elections, the virus or racial issues, we hate to see political leaders use exaggerations and lies to whip up fear and attract attention.

For 2022, we would like to see an emphasis on truth and civility in public life.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: In 2022, fight climate change, save democracy