TALLMADGE – A council member is inviting citizens to share food, the meaning of democracy and their voices in patriotic songs.

Residents are invited to Democracy Day Sept. 21 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Maca Park. Councilman at-large Michael Carano is organizing the event but it is for all citizens no matter what political party.

In keeping with the historical significance of citizens coming together to build community, look out for each other’s needs, and to contribute to a better city and world, those attending are asked to bring something to share with others — a liter of soda, a covered dish, a dessert, paper plates, recyclable silverware or cups.

"The hope is that all needs will be served in a communal way," Carano said. "Bring your favorite dish to share with others."

Besides, food and speeches, local entertainer Angie Haze and "Zach" will performs songs related to the day.

"Anyone who might have a song that celebrates democracy and rights can sing at the microphone," Carano said. "We only ask that all adhere to respectful speech, supporting the right of citizens to be given a platform. In times of too often great division, the hope is that all will engage as examples for the best intentions of what free, respectful speech means."

"We also want to highlight the public entities that make Tallmadge a great place to live — police, fire, our street department and others," he said.

The purpose of the event is twofold: first, it’s a celebration of the historical drive to expand democracy and make it more effective in the lives of all citizens; and second, to bring awareness as to how money in politics and the historical trend to give corporations — non-breathing institutions given the right to exist through state charters — the same rights citizens have as a part of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, he said.

The event will have a few speeches centered around the September holidays: Constitution Day, Patriot Day, Citizenship Day, and National Voter Registration Day, he said.

Those who are not registered, can register to vote at the event.

Citizens can write up what democracy means to them and share it publicly at a "Soap Box" for free expression of ideas, he said.

"It's a chance for people to speak up about democracy," Carano said. "Hopefully people will sit and listen to each other's ideas in a respectful and positive way."

The people are supposed to be the government, Carano said. But more and more the state is taking control over local communities.

The event is a result of a resolution passed by city council in April to bring attention to ensuring citizen control over its Republic against the vast power corporations now wield over elected representatives’ policy decisions on the state and national levels with money given to political campaigns, Carano said. All citizens, no matter party affiliation, want government to be "by, of, and for the people." 

Carano supported abolishing the rights of corporations to be protected as a person under the U.S. Constitution in April. The city resolution, passed 4 to 3, wanted "only human beings, not corporate entities, to have constitutional rights and that political money in elections is not a form of First Amendment-protected 'free speech'."

Carano said he wants citizen involvement in the decision-making process, using the right to petition elected representatives, maintain control over the integrity of the voting process and practice government of, by and for the people.

One of the original ideas was to have a table at the concerts at the park with an hour for people to voice their opinions, said Mayor David Kline. It didn't happen so Carano is having Democracy Day.

"He's coordinating something in one spot and anyone who wants to talk about politics can come," Kline said.

Anyone can meet with the mayor and council members any time but scheduling a time for a meeting guarantees they will be available.

"We have an open door policy every day," Kline said. "We'll answer everything we can. If we're not there [at city hall] we'll schedule a time."

For more information, contact Councilman Michael Carano at 330-341-9084.

Reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or lfreeman@recordpub.com