Ohio gubernatorial candidates Mike DeWine and Richard Cordray faced off in three debates this election season, held in Dayton, Marietta, and Cleveland over the course of four weeks. The debates were an opportunity to compare the candidates’ positions on issues affecting Ohioans across the state. Two of the three debates accepted questions from constituents and fielded them via panelists. The other debate allowed Ohioans to ask questions to the candidates directly in a town-hall style debate.
Ohioans asked and the candidates addressed questions on a wide range of issues, including the opioid epidemic, the ECOT lawsuit, and Medicaid coverage. GOPC shared with all the Debate moderators our Questions for Candidates regarding economic development and revitalization, with a particular focus on mobility and investment in public transportation. We had the opportunity to ask two of our questions during the second debate in Marietta.
During the October 1st debate at Marietta College, GOPC Executive Director Alison Goebel asked candidates what they would do to help Ohioans “age in place” and maintain their quality of life. GOPC Board Member and Mayor of Somerset, OH, Tom Johnson also was present to ask the candidates how they will ensure that communities, small and large, have the ability to attract talent and business. While the debate geared towards cutting the costs of healthcare for seniors, one of many barriers to aging in place, candidates were able to speak on the GOPC issue of workforce and economic development in small and medium-sized communities.
Over the course of the three, hour-long debates, candidates largely agreed on investing in early childhood education and emphasizing workforce training to close the “skills gap.” Both candidates agreed that public transportation is a necessary component of regional and urban economic viability, with Richard Cordray stressing the need for dedicated state-level funding for public transportation as a part of his infrastructure bond package.
Response to GOPC’s Issues
Economic Development: Both candidates Cordray and DeWine made note that economic development opportunities need to be spread out across Ohio, not just concentrated around the three largest metros, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus. Candidate Cordray stated that he will help transfer state money back to local government funds, along with strategies that will support small and medium-sized businesses and invest in clean energy to activate the economy statewide. Candidate DeWine stated that his administration will use JobsOhio as an economic development tool that will act in all 88 counties, not just the ones surrounding the 3C’s, along with open communication channels between state officials and local governments to generate economic growth and a pro-jobs, pro-business environment.
Public Transportation: Candidate Cordray has outlined a plan to ask voters to approve a $1.8 billion infrastructure bond package which will include funding for public transportation; Cordray has stated that Ohio needs to have state-level, dedicated funding for public transportation, which already exists in 25 states and the District of Columbia. Cordray has said that the fact 27 counties in Ohio have no form of public transportation is unacceptable. Candidate DeWine has said that public transportation is needed for poor people who can’t easily get to jobs that aren’t close by. He has described himself as a “good listener” who will listen to what local leaders have to say about the issue. In the past, DeWine has said that, if elected, he will form a blue ribbon panel that will develop transportation recommendations—including transit—and then take those recommendations directly to the people of Ohio.