BRADFORD — 2018 Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Connie Pillich appeared in Bradford Saturday evening during the Pumpkin Show, as part of her plan to visit all of Ohio’s 88 counties before next year’s election.
“I like to visit the counties nobody else goes to,” said Pillich. “I feel like I need to go everywhere, so I can learn.”
Pillich will be facing off in the Democratic primary race for governor against a number of other candidates, including former Republican Dave Kiefer, current state senator Joe Schiavoni, former U.S. Representative Betty Sutton, and Dayton, Ohio mayor Nan Whaley.
Pillich served in the Ohio House of Representatives from 2008 to 2014, where she was a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, the Democratic Women’s Caucus, and the State Council on Educational Opportunities for Military Children. She also served for eight years in the United States Air Force, including during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield.
Her appearance in Darke County came on the heels of visits to Allen, Van Wert, Shelby, Mercer, and Preble counties.
“Every day we hear about terrible people doing terrible things,” Pillich said, referring to recent news of terrorist attacks and mass shootings. “But here in Ohio, I see ordinary people living their lives in extraordinary ways.”
Pillich feels that politicians in Columbus have forgotten many of those extraordinary people, however, in their desire to serve various special interests.
“Some of these towns I’m visiting have been left behind,” Pillich said. “I see vacant buildings, empty storefronts, closed-down factories, and people not making enough money to make ends meet.”
Pillich believes lawmakers in Columbus have betrayed these small communities by taking money from police, fire departments, and EMT’s and using it to fund tax breaks for the wealthy, leaving some residents without access to vital services.
“I’m talking about basic services,” Pillich said. “You want to know that if you’re walking down the street and you get mugged, you can call 911 and the police will show up. Or that grandma can dial 911 if she falls. You want good public schools, and potholes to be filled – just very basic things.”
Pillich also highlighted the fact that recent years have seen Ohio fall from fifth place to 27th in the nation in education, while simultaneously rising to first in terms of opioid deaths.
“We are going the wrong way,” Pillich said.
Pillich has her own ideas about how to combat the opioid crisis currently afflicting Ohio’s communities.
“I think of it as a three-legged stool,” Pillich said. “And the three legs are prevention, treatment, and enforcement. We need people to have good jobs, good education, and a sense of community; we need effective treatment options, which means protecting Medicaid; and enforcement means coming down hard on the dealers and pushers.”
Her education plan, meanwhile, involves promoting mentorships for teachers, building a K-12 curriculum with a strong STEM focus, reducing our reliance on standardized tests, and offering high school graduates a choice between debt-free college or a skilled apprenticeship.
“Ohio should be tops,” Pillich said. “We have all the tools to fix this, but we don’t have the leadership. My vision is to make Ohio a place that works for everyone.”
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