Sandusky, Ohio, home to one of the biggest amusement parks in the country, is ditching Columbus Day in favor of Election Day as a paid holiday, in a decision that officials hope will send a message that the city values voting rights and diversity over a contentious holiday that many Americans already don’t celebrate.

“Ultimately, we knew that Columbus Day was a day that all of our citizens couldn’t necessarily be proud of celebrating. One of the things we’re doing is to begin to celebrate and build on the strength that is our diversity,” Eric Wobser, Sandusky’s city manager, told The Washington Post, adding that the city has passed anti-discrimination legislation. “Columbus Day was not a way for us to show that we value our diversity.”

Sandusky’s population of almost 25,000 is nearly 70 percent white, 23 percent black, and 7 percent Hispanic. The city is more Democratic than the rest of Erie County, which voted for President Trump in 2016. But it swung to blue last year and elected Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.

The move means that Sandusky’s more than 200 government employees will receive paid time off every first Tuesday of November. Wobser said officials are hoping to convince local private companies to observe the holiday as well. Nationwide, more than 300 companies pledged to give their employees paid time off on Election Day last year despite the absence of federal regulation.

The decision comes amid a partisan debate over whether to make Election Day a federal holiday. A bill that would expand voter access by making the first Tuesday of November a nationwide holiday was introduced last month.


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