Ohio man continues run at Presidency

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 31, 2004

While the next election for the president of the United States won’t be held for another four years, that doesn’t mean Selma won’t hear from any candidates until then.

Yesterday, a candidate for Commander in Chief came to town.

He didn’t bring any public relations officers, he didn’t bring any staffers and he didn’t make any grand speeches. He didn’t even bring a suit.

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In fact, if it wasn’t for the campaign slogans painted on his 12-foot long 1974 van, it would be impossible to tell that 49-year-old Joe Schriner is running for President of the United States.

While it may be a bit early for major party candidates to start running for office in 2008, Schriner always starts early.

Not having a political party – or a spot on most ballots, for that matter – means getting out the vote as soon as possible.

“We declared on Nov. 3,” Schriner said smiling.

He gives “press conferences” in the back of his van. On the side of his van, he’s got the year he started running, 2000, with the zero crossed out. Next to it is a “four,” also crossed out. The succession of years currently ends with an “eight,” for the next campaign cycle.

He jokes that the campaign is too low budget to allow for a fresh paint job before each election. For his visit to Selma, he dressed like the “average joe” he bills himself as: plain slacks, a vest and a simple striped shirt.

Schriner, a Bluffton, Oh. Resident, has been running for President since April, 1999.

He’s not an amateur at the game.

He speaks clearly, outlining his plans for changes in domestic policy, and explaining his journey across America.

Really, Schriner knows he has little chance of becoming the Commander in Chief, but that’s not exactly why’s he running.

He’s running because of people like Selma resident Don Domeco. Domeco spent days working to help the area during and after Hurricane Ivan with the Black Belt chapter of the American Red Cross.

Domeco is what Schriner and his campaign calls an “extra mile American.”

Schriner believes the goal of his campaign is to recognize citizens like Domeco all over the country, and to let others know about them hopefully inspiring more good deeds.

Schriner decided to run for president after researching “extra mile Americans” for eight years.

“We looked for the Don Domecos that were trying to help,” he said. “After eight years, we found them.”

Inspired by their desire to help others, and his own Christian values, Schriner decided to run for president.

Unfortunately no major party shared Schriner’s particular set of beliefs, and he couldn’t find many third parties that shared them either.

“We’re pro-life, we believe in an extreme amount of outreach for the poor, we’re actually left of the Green Party on the environment,” he said.

His Web site, www.voteforjoe.com, outlines all the rest specifically, but as far as Schriner’s concerned, it all starts with the profound respect for human life he holds as a Christian.

“It comes out of our own spirituality,” he said.

That spirituality creates a strong sense of volunteerism, which extends beyond helping your immediate neighbors and stretches to helping others in foreign countries.

The recent deaths caused by a tsunami in Asia sparked Schriner to ask for more volunteerism on the parts of everyday Americans.

“We think people in the United States should be cutting back dramatically,” he said, “and taking that money and funneling it into one of those (recovery and relief) agencies. We think the gospel would demand no less.”

This viewpoint, while pertinent to the current situation in Asia, is a permanent part of his campaign.

“There’s little kids sleeping on inner city streets,” he said. “At the same time there’s 24,000 children and adults every day who starve to death. We think that should be a pro-life issue.”

The “we” Schriner refers to is his family. His entire campaign team is made up of his wife Liz, his 8-year-old daughter Sarah, his 6-year-old son Joseph and a 14-month-old baby, Johnathan.

Whenever possible, Schriner keeps his family with him on the campaign trail no matter how long it may go.

“We have traveled, in six years, 65,000 miles,” he said.

Schriner has no clear idea on how many votes he received in 2004. Many states don’t count write-in candidates, he said, and that’s mainly how he runs for office.

Still, the continuous campaign has brought him some much appreciated attention. He’s appeared in thousands of local newspapers and hundreds of local television shows.

“We’ve been incrementally building,” he said.

The latest round of attention has been the most rewarding. He’s received a lot of attention from a pro-life group of Democrats, Democrats for Life.

“That kind of buoyed us,” he said.

This latest trip has taken him on campaign stops in Montgomery and now Selma. He’ll be traveling throughout the Black Belt in the coming days, eventually winding his way down to the Mississipi Delta in Mississippi to Louisiana.

He’s not to worried about the coming election, however, despite his constant campaign efforts.

“The answer’s not in the end of the search (for) the White House,” he said. “We think the answer’s in the search.”