By MARK J. MILLER
STEUBENVILLE - Gov. John Kasich and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor made a campaign stop Tuesday at the Triple Play Cafe and accepted the endorsement of the 21,000-member strong Ohio Restaurant Association.
STEUBENVILLE?VISIT — Ohio Gov. John Kasich spoke to a crowd during a campaign stop Tuesday at Triple Play Cafe in Steubenville. Kasich and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor were there to accept the endorsement of the Ohio Restaurant Association. --- Mark Miller
A lively crowd gathered at the cafe, owned by Al Macre, to see the governor speak as well as witness the endorsement of the state's third largest industry.
Geoff Hetrick, president and chief executive officer for the association, said Republicans Kasich and Taylor had helped the association's restaurant members and small businesses through lowering taxes and cutting state bureaucracy cumbersome to restaurants.
Hetrick said Ohio restaurants employed more than 534,000 people.
"That's 10 percent of the state's work force," he said, adding restaurants collect a large percentage of the state's sales taxes.
The collective decided to endorse the governor and his running mate again because, "They've had a positive influence on the industry by tearing down boundaries. They've cut taxes by more than $3 billion."
Hetrick also said jobs in Ohio had grown by 262,000 in the past four years - the largest growth in the state's history.
Macre introduced Taylor, who said she was more than happy to help small Ohio businesses such as the Triple Play.
"This is an exciting time for our campaign," said Taylor. "It's always great to be back here in Steubenville. It's businesses like this that make Ohio a great place to be."
Kasich began by making the case jobs have grown in the four years since he was first elected governor. He said before he took office the state was down 350,000 jobs and now is up 260,000 jobs.
"We've cut taxes dramatically for small businesses," he said. "That's really important."
Kasich and Taylor are being challenged on the Nov. 4 ballot by Democrat Ed FitzGerald, the county executive of Cuyahoga County, and his running mate, Sharen Neuhardt, a Dayton-area attorney.
The governor said the area reminded him of his hometown of McKees Rocks, Pa. He acknowledged Jefferson County's unemployment rate still is too high.
"These towns are struggling," he said, adding unemployment is down from a high of 13.5 percent to 7.5 percent. "It's still too high. We've got to get these jobs going."
Kasich said he believes the area is ripe for "downstream" growth from the oil and gas industries, adding Jefferson County could become a place of manufacturing again.
"They take this stuff and make wonderful things out of it," he said.
The governor also said the environment must be protected while the oil and gas industry is allowed to grow.
"We may have to put in some more (environmental) rules," he said, adding there must be a balance between the industry, jobs and the environment.
He acknowledged the importance of the Ohio River and what it could mean for growth. He said the state currently is taking an inventory of the river to see how it could be used in the future.
Kasich discussed schools, saying, "They need work. We have to make sure we have the education (to obtain jobs). We need to make sure we are training kids for the jobs that exist."
Jobs that had been shipped overseas were beginning to come back to the U.S., but in a different form, said Kasich. He added technology is something to be embraced and not feared.
The governor briefly discussed the area's drug problem, adding his administration had been working with physicians and law enforcement officials to reduce the number of prescriptions for narcotics that are written.
He said talking to children at a young age about the dangers of drugs is important, while imprisonment isn't always the answer for those addicted.
"I think we're winning more battles now than we ever have before," said Kasich, adding the community needs to become involved to solve the problem. "This is a place of old-fashioned values. If you want to see improvement, it has to be one person at a time. We have to have more people involved in our communities again."
Kasich thanked the restaurant association for its endorsement and those who attended the event.
(Miller can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)