Fitzgerald explores gubernatorial ideas in BG
Written by DAVID DUPONT/Sentinel Staff Writer
Monday, 01 April 2013 08:48
With 18 months to go until the next gubernatorial election, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald hasn’t formally announced his intentions to run for governor of Ohio. Still he’s making the rounds, including a stop Saturday at Ground for Thought in Bowling Green.
|Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald speaking at Grounds for Thought. (Photo: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
What he found was a crowd of about 80 interested in hearing what he has to say, and a few willing to start knocking on doors to get him elected. He told them a more official announcement about his intentions is in the offing.
Tom Lingeman and his wife, Karen Roderick-Lingeman, drove in from Perrysburg to hear Fitzgerald.
“We put other stuff off to come here,” Lingeman said. “We’ll work for his campaign.”
Roderick-Lingeman said she was impressed that “he’s thought things through.” When Fitzgerald talked about charter schools, she said, he distinguished between those run by for-profit companies and those run by public school districts.
Lingeman asked Fitzgerald how he would make sure the Democrats controlled the agenda. The Republicans, he said, always seem to set the terms of the debate.
Fitzgerald agreed, saying he was baffled how the Obama Administration lost control of the debate even after the Affordable Health Care Law was passed.
Fitzgerald, 44, said he figures there are five provisions in the law that will help his son, one of his four teenaged children, who had cancer deal with health insurance related issues in the future.
In his talk Fitzgerald went on the offensive against Gov. John Kasich’s plan to borrow money against future turnpike revenues.
Fitzgerald said that while Kasich has backed away from proposals to sell the turnpike, this new plan would “bury the turnpike in debt.” Once the opposition to selling the turnpike showed its strength, Kasich hedged on the issue.
He did that as well, Fitzgerald said, with Senate Bill 5, which would have curtailed the rights of public service unions. After the bill was rejected by voters, he denied he initiated it.
But Fitzgerald said that the one time he’s ever met Kasich, the then newly elected governor told the newly elected county executive that he would be cutting aid to local governments, but would initiate labor reform that would more than make up for that loss of revenue.
Fitzgerald maintained that Kasich has kept the state’s budget balanced at the expense of local governments, including education. The current administration has been “very hostile to local government.”
Despite those cuts the state still spends as much as it ever has, he said.
And the governor’s plan to expand what is subject to sales tax in order to slash income taxes by 20 percent would mean working and poor people would pay more, and the richest Ohioans would pay less. That would only exacerbate the growing inequalities in American society, Fitzgerald said.
While taking aim at the incumbent, Fitzgerald also spoke about what he would do if elected.
Cuyahoga County, he said, has set up a savings account for every student who enters the school system. That money will be able to be used not just for college, but also post-secondary vocational training.
He also touted the benefits of universal pre-kindergarten education. One of the surest predictors of success, he said, is how ready students are to start school, whether they have a vocabulary of 500 words or 5,000 words.
Fitzgerald also contrasted the county’s economic development efforts with those of the state. In Cuyahoga County only businesses that pledge to add jobs get funds. Much of the money in Ohio goes as “huge corporate giveaways” to companies threatening to leave the state.
He also criticized funneling state economic development dollars into JobsOhio, a private non-profit set up by the Kasich Administration. When the same set up was presented to him as county executive Fitzgerald’s response was: “Isn’t that illegal?”
If it’s public money, the public should know how it’s being handled, he said.
Darlene Bevelhymer, of Bowling Green, asked him how he would accomplish anything given the strong Republican majorities in the state Senate and House.
Fitzgerald expressed optimism that getting a majority in the House was possible. But he said there’s also a lot an executive can do without support from the legislature.
And if the “right wing” majority pushed through legislation, he would be there to veto it. That includes right-to-work legislation, which he expects to be put forward as soon as the election is over.
Ultimately though the political process needs to be repaired, he said. That means reforming campaign financing and changing the way the lines of legislative districts are drawn.
The Republicans majorities are more the result of gerrymandering than an expression of the will of the people.
Bevelhymer said later that she’d come to the gathering with an open mind, but was now more convinced that Fitzgerald was the right candidate to carry the Democratic banner in 2014. She was particularly impressed by his comments on school funding.
Matthew Thacker, a Bowling Green State University student, said that it speaks volumes that Fitzgerald visited the city now. “You can judge which party cares for you by who shows up in the off years.”
Last Updated on Monday, 01 April 2013 08:56