Democratic candidate for governor Ed Fitzgerald asked the crowd of more than 100 Morrow County Democrats to focus on “what really counts” and not to be distracted by his opponent’s negative jabs at him. The Pine Lakes Golf Club was the location for the Democrats’ rally for candidates that included Jeff Lehart, for Representative for the 87th District and Natalie Haupt for 5th District Court of Appeals Judge.
Fitzgerald pointed out that Ohio’s economy is ranked 41st out of the 50 states.
“How can John Kasich possibly say the economy is a miracle?” asked Fitzgerald. “It is a miracle for some people, but not for average, middle class, working people.”
Many policies in the past four years with Kasich are benefiting a very small group of people and their friends and family, Fitzgerald stated.
“How many do you know who are working two or three jobs and living paycheck to paycheck?” continued Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald went on to describe the five biggest differences between himself and Kasich.
Fitzgerald supports public education and Kasich doesn’t. He noted that Kasich has taken money away from public schools and put it into charter schools. That is a step towards trying to privatize education in Fitzgerald’s view.
“You’ve seen the results in your own district as classroom size gets larger and teachers are laid off,” the candidate noted that costs are just passed on to local districts.
We support the rights of working people to organize, Fitzgerald said, and Kasich doesn’t. He showed that with the introduction of Senate bill 5 at the beginning of his administration, which would have limited collective bargaining for public employees.
We as Democrats, said Fitzgerald, are for civil rights, voting rights and women’s rights. The Federal Courts had to step in to protect the rights of voters in Ohio in several of the past elections under Kasich.
We support the rights of local communities to thrive and survive. All services such as police, fire and EMT got hit since Kasich was in office. Fifty percent of funds were taken from local governments even as the state government grew under Kasich’s administration.
Fitzgerald further noted that Kasich increased the size of Ohio’s budget, but chose to cut hundreds of millions from essential public services such as police, firefighters, and other emergency services as well as schools. As a result Ohio taxpayers are now paying almost ½ billion more in local taxes.
“No governor in the history of the state, Republican or Democrat has taken from local government services like that before,” stated Fitzgerald.
These issues all have one thing in common, Fitzgerald said. We believe government should work for the middle class – for the average person. Fitzgerald pointed out that while a person with a $350,000 income got a $6,000 tax cut last year, while working and middle class families got only a $48 tax cut or less. Many seniors were also affected when Kasich cut the Homestead Exemption. Fitzgerald pledged that he will return that Homestead Exemption for working and middle class seniors.
Fitzgerald said he believes that Kasich doesn’t understand the problems of local governments, especially small and struggling communities like Morrow County where money from the state can make a big difference. Fitzgerald pledged that he would look to the needs of firefighters, police and other local services in his budgeting. He added that he has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police (F.O.P.)
“At present the state government is getting bigger while local government is taking the cuts along with public schools,” commented Fitzgerald. “And you don’t call Columbus when you have an emergency or fire. The government closest to you – that is your local government – is more efficient and more accountable than state government.”
Fitzgerald took questions from the audience on protecting teachers’ rights, the state budget and fracking. When the subject of fracking came up, Fitzgerald emphasized that there is a need for these resources, but that he believes there is a way to work with oil and gas companies so that the local communities where the fracking is done gets some of the money. Otherwise, when the oil companies are gone the local communities are left with the clean up after already using resources for roads and other infrastructure expenses of fracking.
“The locals should have a right to keep some of the money from fracking.” Fitzgerald said. “And public health must be protected – that’s not negotiable.”
Fitzgerald concluded his remarks by asking the crowd to have this conversation with their friends and family. To let them know the truth about many policies of the past four years that have been primarily for the benefit of a very small group of people.
“Government has a role to stick up and fight for the average person and not for a few,” Fitzgerald said. “Make sure this election is about those things.”