Democratic candidate for governor makes a stop in Steubenville

STEUBENVILLE – Ed FitzGerald, Democratic candidate for governor of Ohio in 2014, made a stop in the city Saturday at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 246 to introduce himself to the community, meet local politicians, labor leaders, citizens and also to discuss his differences with current Ohio Gov. John Kasich on the issues.

After a quick roundtable discussion, Fitzgerald sat down with the Herald-Star to discuss his background and his candidacy for state governor. Fitzgerald said part of the campaign swing through this part of the state was so voters could get to know him and hear his ideas. He said developing some name recognition in this area of the state could only help his campaign.

“Anytime anyone runs for an office for the first time outside their district they may not be as well known,” he said. “But Ted Strickland wasn’t known to us in (Cuyahoga County) when he ran, and (current Governor) John Kasich wasn’t known to others in parts of the state when he ran.

“The last poll that came out shows us even at 41 percent,” FitzGerald continued. “I’d rather be at 41 percent at this point in the race and even with the governor than not.”

FitzGerald said he lives in Cuyahoga County with his wife of 23 years and his four children. A graduate of Ohio State University, the 45-year-old candidate said he was involved in law enforcement for eight years, both as a county prosecutor and special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“I’m currently a county executive in Cuyahoga County which is the same as being a county commissioner here,” he said, adding he’s also served stints as a city councilman and mayor.

FitzGerald said his main difference with Kasich was on the issue of taxes.

“I think (Kasich) believes the state should be run for a very small, elite group of people, while I think the state should be run for all citizens,” he said. “Gov. Kasich lowered income taxes on millionaires and raised it on working people.”

FitzGerald said the result of increasing the sales tax and lowering income taxes was the middle class and lower income citizens paying a higher percentage of their income in taxes, while those at the top of the income scale were paying less.

“(State Republicans) finished it by raising the sales tax,” he said. “Who is that tax shift for the main benefit of? It only make sense for those at the top of the scale. I think you make more of an economic impact by giving tax cuts to consumers not millionaires.”

FitzGerald also said Kasich’s plan for creating jobs in Ohio wasn’t working, and the state was 47th overall in the nation for job creation since Kasich took office three years ago.

“We haven’t created any new jobs,” said FitzGerald. “Whatever (Kasich) is doing, it isn’t working.”

FitzGerald also said the Kasich administration had made it more difficult for local governments to survive by cutbacks in subsidies to local municipalities. He added Kasich also made it more difficult for local school and other levy proposals to pass by eliminating the 12.5 percent subsidy the state would chip in.

“(State Republicans) took away the 12.5 share of new property tax levies,” said FitzGerald. “It made it even more difficult for local levies to pass. They keep piling more and more of the burden onto property owners.”

FitzGerald also said Republicans in the state also did away with the Homestead Exemption for new citizens that turn 65 and own their own home, making it even more difficult for new seniors to vote for levies. FitzGerald also criticized the Kasich Administration’s record on public education.

“The state has a role in that homeowners aren’t the only ones stuck footing the entire bill (For public education),” FitzGerald said, adding school districts are on an uneven footing in the state when it comes to funding. “The state is walking way from its responsibility to raise up the districts that are struggling.”