In case you missed it… The Ohio Democratic Party this week announced it will be hosting, with the Ohio Democratic County Chairs Association, the first officially sanctioned debate with the Democratic candidates for governor on Tuesday, Sept. 12, in Martins Ferry. This will be the first in a series of debates, forums and other events designed to introduce the Democratic statewide candidates to Ohio voters.
This first debate will be interactive — the Ohio Democratic Party will live-stream the event and take questions from the audience and via Facebook and Twitter.
To get first notification when tickets are available, text DEBATE to 90975 or sign up online at ohiodems.org/debate.
Pepper: I don’t think voters also have been kind to the status quo. And the status quo in Ohio is not good.
We’ve had trickle-down economics, and raiding local government funds for years has just not worked. We’re in our 55th-straight month trailing the national recovery with jobs. People are taking home the same wages they were 30 years ago. Thanks to “Chartergate” and these online charter school scams, schools just seven years ago in Ohio were ranked fifth in the country, our public school system. We’re now ranked 22nd. It’s now an outright scandal, what’s happened. The opioid crisis — we lead the nation in overdose deaths.
The point is, if you can measure it — Ohio is failing in whatever you can measure.
State Democratic Party Chair David Pepper said years of Republican trickle-down economics have left schools, jobs and incomes in Ohio in worse shape.
“We’re picking eastern Ohio for a particular reason; this is a part of the state where so many communities have felt left behind by the current republican leadership in Columbus,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper.
The party has divided the state into six regions and its goal is to hold a debate in each over the next six months or so.
Candidates Nan Whaley, Betty Sutton, Connie Pillich and Joe Schiavoni have all agreed to the debates and, according to Pepper, are eager to share their message with the voters of Ohio.
“We’re excited that we have a set of candidates who are very eager to go out and talk to voters about what they want to do to change the state,” said Pepper. “We view this series of debates as a real opportunity.”
Concerns about education and other issues that matter to residents of East Ohio will take center stage when the four Democrats who hope to be the next governor of Ohio launch a series of debates in Martins Ferry next month.
David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said Martins Ferry High School was chosen as the site of the initial debate because Belmont County and the surrounding region is an area that has been overlooked by state lawmakers and the administration for years. He cited cuts to local government and public school funding, as well as the decision to take severance tax funds generated by natural gas and oil exploration in the area to settle a lawsuit elsewhere, as evidence that local concerns are not a priority in Columbus.
“We don’t think eastern Ohio has done very well by the Statehouse … ,” Pepper said. “That part of the state has really been ignored by the folks in charge. Our candidates are looking to change that.”
Pepper said the Democrats want to highlight that they will be the candidates of change as they try to bounce back from a Republican sweep of 2014 statewide races. They also hope to help Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown hold onto his seat in his 2018 re-election race.
Pepper expects the Democrat candidates to talk about the impact of Republican policies have had on the state when they visit Martins Ferry, which is situated in a region where Republican Donald Trump ran strongly in the 2016 presidential race.
“Beyond eastern Ohio, we have had seven years of trickle-down economics from Columbus,” Pepper said. “The Statehouse has been taking local government funds and school funds, then the state gives that money out as tax (break) increases at the high end while local communities, schools and those who provide direct services are living within recession year budgets.”
In addition to voters in Martins Ferry and all of Belmont County, Pepper said the party will be inviting residents from a number of nearby counties to attend the event. Thousands more across the state — and even Ohioans serving in the military or other capacities overseas — will also be able to view the debate online, as the party plans to stream the event on Facebook Live.
Pepper said Ohio is struggling in “every measure” under the Kasich administration. He said the state’s economic recovery has been stalled for 55 consecutive months and added that its public schools have fallen from a national ranking of fifth to 22nd and still falling. He said public schools are being defunded in favor of private, for-profit charter schools, which he said are often “a scam.”
The staging of the first debate in Martins Ferry is to illustrate “so many communities have felt left behind by the current Republican leadership in Columbus,” Pepper said. “We are very excited we have a slate of candidates show they are very eager to go out and speak to the voters about what they want to do.”
“I think this process will bring out the best in the candidates; they will energize our voters,” Pepper said. “That will lead to the best candidate with the best momentum hitting next year’s general election.”
He said Democrats want to highlight that they will be the candidates of change and what the impact of Republican policies has been in the state.
“We’ve been watching with interest the Republican side of the aisle where they seem to already be in a food fight about debates,” Pepper said.
A recent attempt by the Koch Brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity to hold a debate with the four Republican candidates recently fell through when the most high-profile candidate – Attorney General Mike DeWine – refused to participate. Secretary of State Jon Husted followed suit soon after.
Party Chairman David Pepper contrasted the plan with the other side of the aisle, where an early debate proposed by the conservative Americans for Prosperity already has fallen through.
“We’ve been watching with interest the Republican side of the aisle where they seem to already be in a food fight about debates …,” he said. “Not surprisingly, I guess Mike DeWine didn’t want to go. Jon Husted didn’t want to go. Mary Taylor is then attacking them for not going.
“We’re excited that we have a set of candidates that are very eager to go out and talk to voters about what they want to do to change our state,” Mr. Pepper said.