Bipartisan Group Seeks Return to ‘Respectful’ Political Discourse
August 4, 2022 by Amy Patterson

Hosting Aug. 18 Forum on Guns, Abortion

In a world of 24/7 television news, never-ending political campaigns and ongoing social media arguments, talking about politics is likely the last thing most people want to do in their spare time.

In a world of 24/7 television news, never-ending political campaigns and ongoing social media arguments, talking about politics is likely the last thing most people want to do in their spare time.

But Geauga Bipartisan Advancements thinks that can change.

The group, founded last year by then-Kenston High School students, has hosted two events encouraging open and respectful political dialogue regarding local issues.

A third — a community discussion on abortion and firearm policy — is planned for Aug. 18 at the Geauga West Public Library.

Maximus Yost, who helped form the group and is planning the event, said it’s an opportunity for residents to discuss, in a civil way, the present landscapes and potential future shifts of abortion and firearm policy in the state and country.

“We would love to see residents who hold opinions on both sides of either issue attend so they can try to understand the opinions they disagree with,” he said.

GBA was created after Yost and his peers noticed a lack of respectful political discourse in their school and an overall deterioration since the 2016 presidential election.

“Now, insults are thrown at those with opposing beliefs more than they should be, and consideration of the ‘other side’ seldom appears,” the group’s website said.

Yost thinks providing opportunities for open, civil discussion can change that.

Bipartisanship is a multi-faceted term, the group said. In a traditional sense, it means Democrats working with Republicans, but GBA believes for every issue, candidate and elected official, there will always be those for and those against — supporters and opposers.

“Being respectful and understanding is … how problems are going to be solved,” Yost said. “Everyone’s going give a little bit to try to find a common solution, and that’s truly what bipartisanship is. Because you have two sides of every issue – you have pro-life, pro-choice, pro-regulating firearms and then not (in favor of) regulating firearms.”

Yost said having an event where people can listen and speak in a respectful way allows them to settle down and understand the other side of an issue, and become more open-minded toward possible solutions.

The upcoming event will likely be difficult for some people because of the divisiveness of the topics. It will include time to break into small groups and discuss contentious issues, followed by an opportunity to speak in front of the group about new perspectives gained after group discussions.

“On social media, you can say whatever you want, but it’s very much different than if you’re saying it in person to somebody’s face,” Yost said. “But we think that, although people might not be changing their opinions at this event, they will learn to be more open and respectful in discussion with people who don’t have their same opinions.”

The group’s prior events include a meet-and-greet for newly-elected officials in February 2022.

Roughly a month into their terms, Bainbridge Township Trustee Michael Bates, Russell Township Trustee Matt Rambo and South Russell Village Councilman Chris Bell met residents at Geauga West for an hour of questions and answers from residents.

Prior to that event, GBA held a forum for residents affected by development of the old Geauga Lake property.

Yost said there was a lot of potential misinformation going around the township regarding the development.

“People were putting flyers in everyone’s mailboxes and whatnot, and mailing things out, and I just thought it would be a good idea to have an event where people could ask questions to the trustees and to the school board candidates,” he said.

The event saw decent turnout and went on pretty long, Yost said.

“A lot of questions, a lot of just emotion from people who wanted to know where their tax money was going and wanted to make sure that the school district wasn’t getting stiffed out of anything,” he said.

Although Yost is heading to college this fall, he wanted to give the community another opportunity to participate in thoughtful political dialogue and to come away from it knowing civil political discussion isn’t dead.

“We’re just hoping that people will become more experienced and more involved with having small group discussions, more comfortable with talking about their political beliefs and not really worried about getting attacked,” he said.

The event will be held from 7-8 p.m. at the Geauga West library branch, 13455 Chillicothe Road in Chester Township. More information and registration can be found at

Geauga Bipartisan Advancements hosts Community Discussion on Abortion Policy and Firearm Policy

Aug. 18 from 7-8 p.m. at the Geauga West Public Library, 13455 Chillicothe Road, Chester Township.