candidate John Eastman
Seeking office as a way to speak with a new voice and new ideas
These days John Eastman
doesnt have a lot of spare time. As the Natural Law candidate for
governor of Ohio, Eastman rises each morning around 6 a.m., works at his
job or campaign until midnight, sleeps, then begins again. Its an
exhausting schedule, but most of the time Eastman doesnt feel tired.
He feels exhilarated.
It feels like a calling, said Eastman, an environmental engineer,
in a recent interview. I have a sense that theres a new way
of being thats calling for a voice, and if I want that voice spoken
I need to begin to speak it myself.
That new way of being reflects a political and social transformation that
Eastman has longed for since he was a Yellow Springs High School student
in the 60s, engaged in political debates with his peers.
I had the realization then that for us to survive as a human race
we needed a revolution in how people interact with each other as significant
in society as the industrial revolution, he said. We needed
a human revolution, a transformation in the way we relate to each other.
The key to that transformation, Eastman believes, is people feeling their
connection to each other.
Its about unity, about feeling that were all one, about
seeing the community as a whole and caring for the quality of life for
all people. Its concern for making decisions now that benefit future
generations, he said.
Many Americans share his desire for that transformation, Eastman believes,
and their dissatisfaction with politics as usual fuels his
campaign. In politics as usual, politicians play on peoples
fears, he believes, focusing on what people have to lose and pitting interest
groups against each other. In contrast, Eastman and the Natural Law Party
encourage people to consider their individual welfare as tied to that
of the whole community. And when people are asked to think in such terms,
he said, they rise to the occasion and do so.
As an example, Eastman cited a recent campaign stop at a senior citizens
center. Representatives of Republican candidate Bob Taft and Democratic
candidate Tim Hagan both gave the same message, said Eastman, telling
the seniors that theyd get their prescription drugs and they
wouldnt have to pay more taxes.
When Eastmans turn came, he offered a different, less expected scenario,
one that called on the seniors to see their needs as interrelated with
the needs of those different from themselves. Was there a way, Eastman
asked, to meet everyones needs, a way that might involve higher
taxes but that would result in a healthier overall society? Ohio has an
abundance of resources, he said, enough to meet the needs of all citizens
if we could see ourselves as a community big enough to share what
There was an amazing shift, in the energy of the room, he
said. You could see people sit up straighter. Something in their
generosity was being touched, and they responded.
A belief in peoples basic goodness colors his campaign, said Eastman,
who believes that seeing people as generous and caring and magnificent
allows ourselves to show up that way.
As well as sharing goodness and generosity, people share a desire to live
in a humane, just and loving world, said Eastman. Its
what we hunger for, what we hope for our children.
But most often, people see that vision as impossible to reach, so they
settle for the status quo, he believes. But Eastman wants to challenge
Ohio voters to believe in their visions, because doing so will help those
visions move toward reality.
He doesnt mind being called an idealist, Eastman said, because idealism
is the only way we move forward.
Eastman would bring his visions of a positive future to governing the
state of Ohio, where of the state budgets four main parts
education, criminal justice, health care and welfare only one,
education, is an investment in a positive future, said Eastman.
The other three are all dealing with our mistakes, with the things
that didnt work.
In contrast, Eastman would work for positive futures in the areas of health
care, criminal justice and welfare as well.
What would it be like if, rather than just treating disease, we
used the resources of the government to help people stay well? asked
Eastman, who stated that 70 percent of diseases are preventable.
As a first step, he said, we need to set wellness as a goal. Then
well begin to move toward it. Just in declaring a goal, he
believes, we begin to gather together the resources to reach it.
Likewise, he believes, the criminal justice system is more aptly titled
the criminal creation system, in which all people are
not able to be productive members of society, and when they commit crimes
theyre sent to prison, the best place to learn criminality. So we
train them in crime, then when theyre released, they cant
get a job, so they go back to prison to do graduate work in criminality.
Overall, he said, it makes no sense.
Rather, he said, he would focus on strengthening the economy and on creating
effective programs for rehabilitation and for effectively integrating
people back into society as productive citizens.
The key to creating a positive future, said Eastman, is education. Hed
like to expand the states focus on education to move beyond K-12
schools to include lifelong learning, including education in specific
skills and in living, in making responsible choices.
Eastman would encourage education that respects each childs individuality.
I dont think one size fits all, he said. Part
of the magnificence of human beings is their diversity.
Children are natural learners, he believes, when they have a reason to
learn, a reason which goes beyond standardized tests.
Children eagerly learn reading, writing and arithmetic when its
in the service to something thats fulfilling to them, he said.
School officials could also enhance learning by building buildings which
have a sufficient amount of natural light, Eastman believes. Studies have
shown, he said, that more light serves to both increase learning and cut
An environmental engineer, Eastman has a keen interest in environmental
issues, with living in harmony with the planet, with clean air,
clean water, sustainable agriculture and renewable energy.
The common thread to his approach to all issues, said Eastman, is his
focus on prevention, on seeing positive outcomes as doable and taking
the necessary steps to do them.
John Eastmans desire to make the world a better place and belief
that individual people can do so began in his childhood, he said, specifically
growing up in Yellow Springs and growing up as a Quaker.
Living in Yellow Springs, he felt exposed to models of people living
empowered lives, including his parents, Billie Eastman, who began
the Better Health Co-op, and Dick Eastman, for many years the Greene County
A sense of empowerment also grew from his Quaker upbringing, from the
stories I grew up with as a Quaker, stories of a small group of individuals
impacting the world.
His belief in the goodness in people also grew from his Quaker background,
said Eastman, who felt surrounded by people who treated others according
to the Quaker belief that there is that of God in each individual
Thats what I grew up with, he said. Its
huge to grow up in that belief.
Always keenly interested in politics, Eastman chose to pursue his interest
in environmental issues and engineering. After graduating from Antioch
College, he received a master of environmental engineering from Johns
Hopkins University, then a Ph.D from the University of Washington. He
taught for seven years at Michigan State University before becoming a
Divorced and the father of four grown children, Eric, Leah, Bryan and
Robin, Eastman is now engaged to marry Terri Brown of Miamisburg.
Eastman became directly involved in politics six years ago, after his
mother, an early supporter of the Natural Law Party, talked him into just
putting his name on the ballot as candidate for the Ohio State Senate.
Soon he found himself more and more involved with the Natural Law Party.
It was the only party that spoke to the big emerging issues,
he said. Its the only party that has a sense of the holistic
nature of life, of the interconnectedness of issues. Its the only
party that recognizes that we are all one.
However, being a third party candidate can be frustrating just
getting his name on the ballot required collecting almost 7,000 signatures,
Eastman said. And even though Eastman and his supporters successfully
collected the signatures so that he will be on the ballot, Eastman is
being excluded from two of the three one-hour debates taking place between
the gubernatorial candidates, since organizers decided including Eastman
would take away necessary time from the Republican and Democratic candidates.
He has been asked by the Cleveland City Club to take part in the third
debate, on Nov. 1.
The decision to exclude him from debates is profoundly undemocratic, Eastman
The voters deserve to hear from all qualified candidates,
he said. The voters, not a small elite, should decide who they hear.
Its usually the independent candidate who brings new ideas.
People sometimes tell Eastman they believe in his ideas but wont
vote for him because they dont think he can win. Such an attitude,
Eastman believes, causes our society to remain stuck in the status quo.
The most powerful vote is a vote for something you believe in,
he said. Just voting for your beliefs can cause those ideas to grow.