GREENVILLE — A potential future Ohio Governor met with Darke County Democrats Thursday.
State Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) spoke during the party’s Spring Gala dinner held at the American Legion Hall in Greenville.
He represents Ohio’s 33rd Senate District, covering Columbiana and Mahoning Counties. Schiavoni was appointed to his Senate seat in 2009, and first won election in his own right in 2010. He ran unopposed in 2014 and currently serves as the Senate minority leader. On March 1, he officially announced his intention to run for governor in 2018, the first Democrat in the Buckeye State to throw his hat in the ring. He cannot run for the Senate again due to term limitations.
Schiavoni told those assembled that as a senator, and as he runs for governor, his goal is to listen to Ohio’s citizens.
“Legislators get down to Columbus, they think that they know it all, and they base their decisions on what think-tanks will tell them, what party leaders will tell them, what contributors will promise them, and that’s a problem,” he said. “So I always want to be the person that I was when I started in the Senate — a 29-year-old guy who was working hard every day to improve quality of life issues for the people that I represent.”
“You cross the state talking to people about what’s important to them,” he continued. “The issues in Darke County aren’t much different than in Mahoning County. People want good quality jobs, they want schools that can provide education that will prepare kids for the future, so that they can be successful, and they want to feel safe in their communities.”
“Just because I don’t represent this community geographically, doesn’t mean that I do not advocate for your issues,” he added.
Schiavoni gave his thoughts on a number of issues facing the state, including the heroin epidemic, campaign financing, right-to-work legislation, fracking, clean water, and education.
He also spoke out critically against a proposal by Ohio Governor John Kasich for the state to collect municipal business taxes and turn around and disperse it to municipalities.
“We have to have local control to allow our local officials to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars and spend them the way they see fit in their communities to provide services for those people,” he explained. “Not giving it all to Columbus and letting Columbus politicians make up their minds on how to help people here in Greenville and Celina. I think it’s important that these local officials have the ability to fund things that are important to their constituents and not taking away their power.”
Asked for his impressions of Darke County, Schiavoni said, “This is the first time I’ve been to this dinner, but I’ve met a lot of people in this room at events throughout the state. Everybody is unbelievably welcoming and friendly and the food was awesome.”
Schiavoni admitted the result of the 2016 presidential campaign was disappointing, but urged leaders of both parties to work together for the common good.
“I was obviously disappointed but you can’t cry over spilled milk and you can’t hold grudges,” he said. “So as I travel, I say ‘I don’t care who you voted for, let’s talk about things that are important to you, moving forward in the State of Ohio.’”
Darke County Engineer and head of the county Democrats Jim Surber said he was impressed with Schiavoni and pleased the senator was able to speak at the gathering.
“We’re very appreciative he was able to travel clear across the State of Ohio to talk to us here tonight,” he said.