LIMA — The calendar may still say April 2017, but 2018 is just around the corner, bringing an election for a new Ohio governor with it.
More than a year before the 2018 primary, the field is already beginning to fill up for Democratic contenders for governor, with state Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, and former state Rep. Connie Pillich. On Tuesday, Schiavoni, 37, came to Lima to speak at the Allen County Democratic Party dinner, a means of introducing himself, describing himself as a husband and father of two from the Youngstown area who works as an attorney representing injured workers.
“I’m here to listen,” he said. “I’m here to bring forward issues and create a dialogue with people I haven’t met, building relationships for the future. I’m honored to be here and I appreciate the opportunity.”
Since announcing his candidacy March 1, Schiavoni, the senate minority leader for the past three years, has noted several areas that seem to be of importance to voters in all areas of Ohio.
“These main issues seem to continue to come up wherever I am: good jobs, quality schools and safe communities,” he said. “Just driving in here today, I like to look and see with my own eyes what’s going on in the community. I’ve noticed that Lima is similar to Youngstown in the fact that you’ve lost a lot of population in the last 20 years, you have a lot of abandoned properties and blight, which causes unsafe communities. I’m sure that the schools are struggling, somewhat, because of being underfunded with local governments. It’s hard to redevelop these communities if the state is not funding local governments and schools at the proper levels.”
Schiavoni said those three areas need to be the top priority when developing a state budget, not focusing on tax cuts, which he says mainly benefits the wealthy.
As for reaching out to areas such as Allen County, where Republicans have typically fared much better during elections, Schiavoni said he hopes to find common ground by focusing on issues such as jobs and safety, areas he said are important to everyone.
“I don’t care who people voted for in 2016,” he said. “We have to talk about moving forward as a state and as a country, and so you start in an area where you can have some agreement. I do that every day in Columbus.”
Originally published in The Vindicator.