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Democratic Debate

On Monday, December 4th, our event of the day was the debate sponsored by the City Club of Cleveland between the four declared gubernatorial candidates for Governor of Ohio in 2018 competing for the nomination of the Democratic Party.

These candidates were Ohio State Senator Joe Schiavoni (District 33), former U.S. Congressperson Betty Sutton, former Ohio State Representative and former candidate for Ohio State Treasurer Connie Pillich, and Mayor Nan Whaley of Dayton. We have heard all of them speak individually at the City Club and other forums.


On this occasion, the debate was held at the Westfield Insurance Studio Theatre at the "Idea Center" in Playhouse Square and the moderators asking most of the questions were Statehouse News Bureau Chief Karen Kasler and WKYC Channel 3 News Anchor Russ Mitchell. Together they fielded questions pertaining to the opioid crisis, Medicaid expansion, rising crime rate, funding of road construction, the unemployment rate, and the formidable Republican ticket of Attorney General Mike DeWine for Governor and Secretary of State Jon Husted for Lt. Governor but interestingly the names of U.S. Congressperson Jim Renacci and Lt. Governor Mary Taylor never came up once in the course of the evening.

The format consisted of opening and closing statements along with questions from the moderators followed by questions from audience members like our friend Ms. Meryl Johnson, member of the Ohio School Board who queried the candidates regarding school funding; Professor David B. Cohen of the University of Akron who asked about re-apportionment; and Mr. Tom Rubio, an intelligent young guy that we met before the debate, who wanted to know about future allocation of funds to local governments. In addition there was a question from twitter concerning college affordability.

Overall Senator Schiavoni, U.S. Congressperson Sutton, Ohio State Rep. Pillich, and Mayor Whaley seemed to agree more than they disagreed. Indeed there was a general consensus that the so-called economic recovery in Ohio was in fact quite wanting; the Republicans are at fault for giving out tax breaks that have not helped much while cutting sorely needed funds to local governments; the opioid crisis is certainly that if not a full-blown emergency in need of resources; it will ultimately be more expensive not to fund the Medicaid expansion and infrastructure maintenance than to fund it; there must be a crackdown on the charter schools not putting taxpayer funding to effective use; and educational opportunities must be enhanced and student loan debt must be addressed.

What's more, each of the four Democratic candidates indicated that if she/he were elected a new, more productive partnership would be formed between state and local government. Not surprisingly, it was said that Ohio Attorney General DeWine and Secretary of State Husted were part of the problem instead of the solution to all of the above.

When we arrived, we received a warm welcome from Mr. Dan Nelson and Ms. Siomara Marquetti from "Ideastream" and chatted with a lot of people that we know who were very much interested in what the candidates had to say like Ms. Samantha Peddicord, Board Secretary of the "Global Ambassadors Language Academy"; Mayor Trevor Elkins of Newburgh Heights; Dr. Patricia Blochowiak from the East Cleveland City School Board; Mr. Kevin D. Malecek, Senior Development Officer from "The Lakeland Foundation"; and Mr. Joe Calabrese, the CEO and General Manager of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority.

Unfortunately, during the course of the debate the potential for immigrants to positively affect the future of Ohio's economy as well as its diversity never came up although we put in to ask a question about it. We have asked all of the four candidates individually about this, though, and they all are eager to explore the possibilities.

Afterwards, we were complimented by former U.S. Congressperson Betty Sutton who said that she always likes to see us at events vigorously taking notes on everything that is said or done.

As we all know, the gubernatorial race will certainly undergo a shake-up at least on the Democratic side in the next few days when former Ohio Attorney General and former Director of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Richard Cordray is expected to announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. At least at first, he will  certainly be a front runner but it is still early and even more twists and turns could be in the brewing stages for both parties.


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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