Candidate talks issues, governor’s policies

Gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald spoke to Seneca County Democrats about Gov. John Kasich’s economy and his campaign platform in Fostoria Saturday.

He started his public service career by becoming a special agent with the FBI. As an agent, he was assigned to the Organized Crime Task Force in Chicago. There, he investigated political corruption and mafia influence, including stopping the Cicero crime syndicate. After his service, he returned to Ohio and served as assistant county prosecutor and mayor of Lakewood. After the establishment of the county council in 2009 to eliminate corruption among the board of county commissioners, FitzGerald was voted county executive.

As the seventh of eight children, FitzGerald said his parents taught him four things growing up: to work hard, to focus on education, to focus on family and to give back to the community.

During his speech, FitzGerald called Kasich out on his “Wall Street values.” Now that Ohio has “had several years” to test out Kasich’s plans, it is time to change them, he said.

One of FitzGerald’s main points against Kasich was the JobsOhio program and the corruption found within the program. He said public money is going into a private corporation. Because of this shift, the public then does not know what is done with the state money, since it is placed into private hands.

“We’re not allowed to know,” he said.

He also said state funds coming to the JobsOhio board is being invested in companies that board members are involved in, giving an unfair economic advantage to them. In a report by the Dayton Daily News in July, six of nine members of the board have ties to companies who are benefiting from JobsOhio or have received other forms of assistance from the state.

FitzGerald recently had challenged the incentives of JobsOhio, calling for an ethics review of the company. The state ethics panel said that has no jurisdiction over the alleged conflicts of interest, but FitzGerald has not given up the fight on the subject.

“It is not a Democrat or Republican problem,” he said. He recalled Republican State Auditor Dave Yost’s attempt to audit the agency, but Kasich passed legislation to stop Yost from doing so.

“Is it illegal? No. But it should be,” FitzGerald said.

He also said that he thought that local Republicans would have a hard time defending Kasich’s actions, especially with his legislation eliminating the 12.5 percent of property taxes paid by the state. Now, property owners are required to pay that 12.5 percent, said FitzGerald.

He said Kasich has also raised sales tax, taking more money from poorer Ohioans and less from the rich. FitzGerald said Ohio now has the greatest gap ever between the rich and the poor.

FitzGerald also mentioned Senate Bill 5 and how Kasich has cut the local government fund, along with condemning Kasich’s additions to the budget restricting the choices of Ohio women, including restricting what help rape counselors can provide survivors.

Even with FitzGerald’s discussion of Kasich’s shortcomings, he provided hope for the educational system in Ohio. Under his jurisdiction in Cuyahoga County, he has implemented the first program in the U.S. to provide college savings funds to every student beginning in kindergarten.

“My wife works two jobs,” he said. With one child in college and another starting soon, he said he understood Ohioans’ concerns of providing a good education for their children.

He also started a universal preschool program to assist children to get a head start.

“Government can be positive,” he said. “Education is a priority.”

He has many plans for the future, and he is relying on honesty and the public to get him into the governor’s position.

“The best campaign is a conversation between two people. Let people know what happened,” he said, referring to the list of Kasich’s issues he is attempting to bring to light. “It’s history.”

He said if Ohioans discussed the issues that Kasich has made, then the gubernatorial race could be “a landslide.”

FitzGerald said he would visit Seneca County again in the future.