Original Article Source: The News Record

Joe Schiavoni: A young face entering the gubernatorial race

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Ohio gubernatorial candidate Joe Schiavoni is shaking up the campaign for governor in the coming year with platforms that look to benefit student resources and those affected by the opioid epidemic — both timely and prominent issues facing the state.

A Democrat from Youngstown, Ohio, Schiavoni currently serves as the Ohio Senate Minority leader. A young star in an antiquated and unsuccessful Ohio Democratic Party, he hopes to win the gubernatorial Democratic primary and go on to the general election in 2018.

Throughout his tenure in state legislature and on to his gubernatorial campaign, Schiavoni has been a major proponent of universal internet access, especially for rural Ohioans.

“I’ve proposed legislation that would invest in the future by way of broadband access for everybody. Businesses, when they look at Ohio, they want to see that you have reliable internet, good infrastructure for travel and transit, and they want the people that live in the state to have the skills necessary,” Schiavoni said. “We’re talking about investing in trade schools and technical schools, but also investing in higher education … but I’ve also proposed [student] debt relief. After graduation, if you want to start a business or purchase a home, the state would pay a portion of that student debt in order to incentivize young people to stay.”

The opioid epidemic is something that Schiavoni will touch on throughout his campaign. As a workman’s compensation lawyer, Schiavoni witnessed firsthand the progression of injured workers in to opioid addiction.

“We have to make sure we are investing in real resources in order to deal with the problem every day,” Schiavoni said. “So I proposed a bill that would allocate 10 percent of Ohio’s rainy day fund. Which, the rainy day fund is a $2 billion fund, so this is a $200 million investment over the next two years to invest in education for young people, giving local governments the ability to utilize these funds to deal with police on the ground, addiction services, mental health on the local, county and municipal level.”

Schiavoni sees lawsuits against drug companies as a solution that doesn’t immediately help make change.

“Lawsuits are part of it, but it is not going to fix anything right now,” he said. “It is going to take years and years of litigation. A well thought-out, balanced proposal to invest is the way to go.”

Education and equal opportunity within it is another focal point of Schiavoni’s campaign.

“Kids in urban schools were being used as pawns to make money and it’s very, very frustrating for me to watch,” he said. “I’ve switched my focus to holding electronic learning academies accountable because there’s so much fraud and abuse. When you go to poor, rural areas, a lot of these kids are going to ECOT [Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow] and virtual academies.”

Many ECOT and charter school students across Ohio are frustrated with the state. Schiavoni believes that Ohio can hold these schools accountable while still making them available.

“I’m not against choice, but I want good choice…There is an abuse of taxpayer dollars… that uses our most vulnerable kids to make a profit,” he said.

Schiavoni, 38, is the youngest candidate in the race so far, and believes that it is important for college students to pay attention to what is going on in state government.

“18-25 is really important … I know it’s a tough time when you’re trying to concentrate on studies, but it’s important to understand what opportunities the government is going to provide for you … I want to include young people in the process of drafting legislation when it comes to student debt relief,” Schiavoni said.

Senator Schiavoni plans to visit UC at some point during his campaign, and believes that the perspective of UC students will be beneficial in this gubernatorial election.

This article originally posted by the News Record.