Five Takeaways from the 2nd Ohio Gubernatorial Candidate Debate

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On Monday, October 1st, Marietta College hosted the 2nd Ohio Gubernatorial Candidate Debate featuring Mike DeWine (R) and Richard Cordray (D) in their campaigns to win the Governor seat.

Buckeye Hills Regional Council staff were amongst the crowd of 150 people, listening to each candidate share their ideas on topics like infrastructure, education, transportation, healthcare, and the opioid addiction.

Here are five key takeaways from the debate that relate to our mission as a council of governments focused on strengthening the quality of life for residents in southeast Ohio.

1. Public transportation is a rising trend and central to economic development.

As a leading challenge for southeast Ohio, and the key focus of our Regional Transportation Planning team, strengthening access to quality transportation in rural Ohio addresses issues of quality of life, workforce development, business support, healthcare, and much more.

Public transportation often goes hand-in-hand with walkable communities – consider a snapshot of a thriving downtown or a bustling urban landscape: locals are drawn into relationship with each other thanks to the proximity public transportation provides and often support small business at higher levels than in communities who rely solely on the automotive vehicle.

Companies like Lyft and Uber provide public transportation much like a traditional taxi service would – but, one thing that is often lacking in door-to-door transportation is the availability of handicap-accessible vehicles needed for our aging & disabled population.

We’d like to encourage the candidates to consider handicap-accessible door-to-door transportation as part of their support for public transportation.

2. Infrastructure development is a priority for regional growth.

Both DeWine and Cordray acknowledged that economic growth and job growth in rural communities across Ohio was dependent on infrastructure development. Residents need roadways to access jobs and employers need utilities to manufacture their products. School systems need to ensure safe routes to transport children and caretakers need to access their clients to provide much needed services.

Compared to other regions in Ohio, southeast Ohio is largely rural and infrastructure continues to be a tremendous hurdle in development and community growth.

We’d like to encourage the candidates to specifically prioritize Appalachian development in their conversations regarding infrastructure.

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3. Addressing the opioid addiction issue is both challenging and necessary.

Though the candidates seemed to disagree on how to address the challenges of opioid addiction, both agreed that the issue needs to be addressed to support future growth of our state. Identifying strategies to reduce the over-prescription of medication, exploring ways to incentivize the proper handling and distribution of pharmaceuticals, and developing plans to educate communities about addictive drugs and pain management are all keys to combatting opioid addiction.

We’d like to encourage the candidates to support a budget that ensures funding for the diversity of programs at the state level that work to address these challenges.

4. Supporting local is one of the best ways to revitalize southeast Ohio.

During the debate, questions were posed in regard to all kinds of issues. Regardless of the topic though, one thing remained to be true: people care about their local communities and want to see their neighbors access the resources they need for a quality of life. Whether it’s spending money with a local small business, supporting local services that offer the programs our neighbors need, or advocating for policy that prioritizes local funding, each individual in southeast Ohio can help lead positive change from the comfort of their own neighborhoods.

We’d like to encourage the candidates to prioritize local funding, to encourage community leaders to educate their constituents about local policy advocacy, and to prioritize a budget that reflects the distribution of state funds to local agencies and programs.

5. Collaboration is key to community building.

Despite disagreeing on how to address core issues, each candidate commented about the aspiration to work with both political parties to accomplish goals in a bipartisan manner. In our own research and practice, and that of scholars across the globe, it’s evident that for sustainable, comprehensive, and positive development to happen, community leaders need to embrace the spirit of collaboration and partnership.

We’d like to encourage the candidates to embrace the spirit of collaboration and lead the state of Ohio by developing strategic and diverse partnerships.