Democrats’ field for governor crowded

The Democratic field in the May 8 primary for the 2018 governor’s election is a crowded one, with five tickets for voters to choose from.

Campaigns are still getting organized, and requests from The Marietta Times for interviews connected with only two of them: Ohio Sen. Joseph Schiavoni and Connie Pillich, a former state representative from the Cincinnati area. Despite inquiries, the Times was unable to interview Richard Cordray, Dennis Kucinich or William O’Neill, and their positions below are gleaned from campaign websites on the applicable topics.

Richard Cordray is not included because his campaign website has no policy statements on the topics.

Campaign position

Schiavoni: The problems Ohioans face include lack of investment in communities, infrastructure, schools and solving the drug problem. I’ve been a state senator for the past nine years, and what I’ve seen is tax cutting rather than investing in people, communities, job opportunities … in beautiful southeastern Ohio, there’s also a lack of investments in the natural assets of the area. It needs change from the top, we need to start painting a picture with the state taking ownership in cleaning up brownfields, finding a funding formula for schools that is constitutional, incentivizing business to come into communities, not just with tax cuts but by investing in things that matter to people … it’s about showing a vision, reinvesting the right way, in schools, health, quality of life.

Pillich: Ohio’s dearest need is leadership because it guides everything, sets the stage to move things forward. My No.1 priority is to create jobs, I have a five-point plan that will include education, infrastructure, supporting business start-ups and entrepreneurs, advocating for manufacturing. I grew up in the shadow of a big steel mill, saw that collapse, and that’s why I turned to the military for an education. I have the best leadership training there is. When I travel the state, people say they want solutions and leadership, they want to see something new, not another Mike DeWine.

Kucinich: We will work with business, industry, labor, city leaders and community organizations to repair, rebuild and renew Ohio’s infrastructure. … We must establish once and for all, as a moral and political imperative, the rights of workers. The right to join a union. The right to organize. The right to strike. The right to decent wages and benefits. The right to a safe workplace. The right to participate in the political process.

O’Neill: Legalize marijuana, tax its sale and make $200 million in sales taxes as demonstrated in Colorado … Release all non-violent marijuana prisoners for an annual savings of $100 million … Use our newfound $325 million dollars to build a world-class mental health network run by the State of Ohio. Treat addiction like the disease it is in the name of compassion; and use the resources of our great state to actually improve the quality of life in Ohio …Raise the minimum wage in Ohio to $15 per hour and give entry-level workers the ability to raise a family and buy something made in Ohio.

Opioid crisis

Schiavoni: I’ve traveled the state as a senator and with my own eyes seen the devastation, especially in rural communities. The plan I’ve proposed would use 10 percent of the state’s rainy day fund (the Ohio Budget Stabilization Fund, which currently has a balance of about $2 billion) to educate kids, give local governments additional resources such as law enforcement, rehabilitation and foster care, help reconnecting people with their lives after rehab. I’ve developed that bill with specialists from across the state. It would also mandate insurance companies to cover pills that have nonabusive characteristics. We’d establish a database of available beds so that when people are ready to seek treatment they can find a place in real time. It’s about making sure people know what the resources are and having the state invest in those resources.

Pillich: It needs to be addressed from all sides. This is the largest public health crisis of this century. We need to start with prevention, we need to make sure people have good-paying jobs, educate Ohioans about the dangers and destructiveness of addiction, have effective treatment programs and keep Medicaid flowing. And law enforcement has to be part of the equation — you can’t do this if you don’t fund police to get it off the streets. You need emergency services, social workers, hospitals, you need to attack it from all sides.

Kusinich: The Cleveland VA Hospital has developed an innovative protocol for dealing with the opioid epidemic, which emphasizes a multi-disciplinary approach to pain management. We can learn from this program and Ohio must fund broader long-term treatment and insist that insurance companies do the same. … We must address drug addiction as a health crisis, rather than simply a criminal justice matter.

O’Neill: … we need to re-open the Ohio Department of Mental Health hospitals, and we need to get serious about addiction. Treatment. And I am talking long-term treatment, is the answer. And it is costly. This is not a crisis that is going to be solved individually by 88 counties, and the private sector simply does not have the resources. The state must act, and they must act now. People are dying.

School funding

Schiavoni: I’ve been proposing for years better accountability in for-profit charter schools, and also electronic charter schools. I’m OK with the electronic charter school concept, but there has to be accountability … We need to make it clear that we will fix the funding formula. It was found unconstitutional in 1997, (Ohio Gov. Ted) Strickland tried to fix it, but (Ohio Gov. John) Kasich stripped it out. I want to make sure that is a priority, and it’s only a priority if you fund it. Every community has levies, and they’re constantly begging local residents for more money because the state has left them high and dry.

Pillich: The school funding formula is one of the thing that inspired me to run for public office. Our schools in Ohio have fallen from fifth nationally to 27th. We have undermined public schools, and we need a funding formula that’s fair and equitable. I have an educational stimulus plan that would range from universal pre-kindergarten to a great K-12 curriculum, workforce training to college prep, with a fair funding formula.

Kucinich:It is time for a new direction in public education where we preserve public educational funds and we enable communities to vote whether they want local tax dollars to go to charter schools that partner with our public schools. We also need to understand the underlying dissatisfaction with public schools and address these issues to restore public confidence in public education. … I will soon announce a state-wide initiative, working with teachers, parents, students and educational advocates, to protect public educational funding.

O’Neill: Public K-12 education is not mentioned on the website, although he does have a position that the cost of post-secondary education needs to be reduced.

Focus on small cities and rural areas

Schiavoni: Our local governments have been left drastically underfunded and forced to ask residents for more and more money in ballot levies. Many cities have been forced to make significant cuts to critical services like police and fire. This is not a sustainable practice. We cannot continue to shortchange our communities in order to fund tax cuts and tax loopholes for wealthy corporations. We need to fund local governments properly in order to invest in our residents and our future. Every year I get into an argument with the Republicans in Columbus about that lack of investment, and it occurs in every corner of the state. They’re not asking for a ton more money … just enough resources to provide vital services for people who desperately need care. The money doesn’t just trickle down from tax cuts.

Pillich: I have heard the complaints from every city, town and village, I’ve been to all 88 counties in Ohio. Leadership changes everything. I spent eight years in the military, and I got the best leadership training in the world. The lack of funding for police, firefighters, road, schools, is all a clear statement of the priorities of the leaders who are now in Columbus — they don’t care, that’s their version of leadership.

Kucinich: State government has deprived cities of anticipated revenue causing cutbacks in public health and safety. As a former councilman and Mayor, I understand the revenue needs of local communities. I intend to reverse the policy and restore the relationship between local communities and state government.

O’Neill: No specific reference to policy proposals regarding local government and small communities on the website.

Health and Medicaid

Schiavoni: Ohio’s investment in Medicaid expansion was a good investment. You have to look at health outcomes, giving people opportunities to have better health. These are people who are working, but struggling, and this gives them a chance to see a doctor or a dentist, to do important things for their long term health. It’s an investment in the future … If the feds strip out all the expansion dollars, we can’t sustain that (program) without an increase in income tax, and I’m not willing to do that. We have to have a conversation about how we’d find that revenue.

Pillich: I believe we need a healthy Ohio, not just for quality of life but for economic reasons. We need healthy communities, school lunches, food security and clean water. I would have competitive bidding for Medicaid services, and make sure we dedicate the appropriate resources to the opioid crisis. We need to retain the Medicaid expansion … And I think Medicaid should be opened up to anyone who wants to buy coverage under it.

Kucinich: In this campaign I will convene all parties to bring forward a comprehensive plan, to provide every Ohioan with access to affordable, low-cost, basic medical, mental health, dental and prescription drug care, with a new emphasis on regenerative health care, disease prevention, diet and complementary therapies.

O’Neill: Once upon a time in Ohio there was a state government that took the issue of mental health seriously. We had a network of state hospitals that specialized in the treatment of people with mental disorders. … in the ’70s a decision was made to dismantle that entire network. … (jail) is where the vast majority of our mentally ill citizens now reside. In jail. And that simply has to stop.

Democratic primary candidates

¯ Richard Cordray, 58, former director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, former Ohio Attorney General, state treasurer, state representative; running with Betty Sutton, former administrator of the St. Lawrence Seaway Corp., former U.S. Representative for Ohio congressional district 13.

¯ Dennis Kucinich, 71, former U.S. Representative for Ohio Distract 10; running with Tara Samples, city council member for Akron.

¯ William O’Neill, 71, Ohio Supreme Court justice; running with Chantelle Lewis, school principal in Lorain.

¯ Connie Pillich, 57, former state representative for Ohio District 28; running with Scott Schertzer, mayor of Marion.

¯ Joseph Schiavoni, 38, state senator for Ohio District 33; running with Stephanie Dodd, member, Ohio State Board of Education.

Calendar for governor election

¯ Feb. 7: Declarations must be filed by primary candidates.

¯ Feb. 26: Deadline for filing as a write-in candidate for primaries.

¯ April 9: Deadline for voters to register for primary elections.

¯ May 5, noon: Deadline for boards of election to receive applications for primary ballots by mail.

¯ May 8, 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., primary election.

¯ Oct. 9: Deadline for voters to register for general election.

¯ Nov. 6, 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.: General Election Day.

¯ A look at the Republican candidates for governor ran in The Marietta Times on Jan. 17 and is available at