The leading Democratic gubernatorial candidate blasted his Republican opponent, blaming him for cutting public education, handcuffing middle-class Ohioans and shielding government from open records laws.
Democrat Ed FitzGerald slammed Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, during a campaign stop Saturday at Sawmill Creek Resort.
Before facing Kasich in November, FitzGerald must first win a primary against Democrat Larry Ealy in May.
But if he defeats both challengers, FitzGerald vowed to weave his anti-corruption public policies into office.
In his current post as Cuyahoga County executive, FitzGerald introduced tougher ethic laws and downsized government in the wake of public corruption scandals across the Cleveland region. Before then, he worked as an FBI special agent, assigned to a task force outing corrupt Chicago politicians and making them accountable for their actions. He also served as Lakewood’s mayor.
FitzGerald answered questions about his platform to the Register in an exclusive interview:
Q: What, in your opinion, are the three most problematic failures of the Kasich administration?
EF: The big three are the economy, schools and local community services.
Economy: Unemployment has gone down, but a lot of the jobs that have been created, there is not enough of them, and they are not paying the kind of wages that you can support a family on. The state’s economic development programs need to be focused more on small businesses. Most people in Ohio work for small businesses, and there has been very little direct help for small businesses.
Schools: They have cut hundreds of millions of dollars out of K-12. Local school districts have really ended up footing the bill for the state. Lots of teachers have been laid off, and programs have been cut. The state should start picking up more funding so it’s not all on local property tax owners like it has increasingly been.
Local community services: The state has really disinvested from local communities. They cut 50 percent of local government funds. Police officers, firefighters and service workers got laid off, services (were eliminated) and a lot of these smaller communities are feeling completely abandoned. The governor didn’t have to do that, but he did because he is financing tax cuts that are overwhelmingly benefitting the wealthiest people in the state, and it’s a mistake. We just need a government that respects local communities and shares state revenue with them in the same way almost every governor before this one has.
Q: If you are elected governor, can you share what you believe might be your greatest accomplishments as a state leader?
EF: In the broad sense, I want to run government for the benefit of the average person in Ohio. I think, right now, it’s being run for the benefit of a very small group of people. My priority would be working for the average, working-class, middle-class person in this state.
Q: You are not the first candidate running for office to promise transparency. Many times, those promises aren’t kept. If elected, how will you keep that promise?
EF: It’s not just something I’m saying. Sometimes candidates say that because it’s a talking point. But I’ve implemented it before, and I’ll implement it again. I received some national recognition at the county level for making government more accountable and more transparent. Not only has the governor never done that, and never said that (more transparency) is one of his goals, but his administration has sponsored and signed into law provisions that make government more secretive. JobsOhio is shielded from a (review of finances) from the state auditor. This is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. That is just bad government.
Q: Given the multiple investigations by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in the Fremont and Sandusky County areas paired with complaints from many area families about local police and sheriff deputies, if elected governor, how will you solve this problem and help these families?
EF: Without getting into the specifics of the cases, it’s very important for the justice system to move expeditiously. As a prosecutor, I saw that when cases were delayed, (there was a saying that goes) ‘justice delayed, justice denied.’ It ends up soaking up resources, and it’s important for the wheels of justice to move as effectively as they possibly can. I would certainly be open to looking at each one on a case-by-case basis to see if there is something that can be done to expedite the cases. The fact that I have a law enforcement background and Gov. Kasich does not would be helpful.