Road to governor’s mansion will begin in Butler County

The race for Ohio governor looks like it could start in Hamilton as the Journal-News and Miami University Regionals in Hamilton will host in September what is believed to be the first gubernatorial forum in the 2018 election. FILE

The start of the 2018 gubernatorial campaign is expected to begin in Butler County.

Miami University and the Journal-News are partnering to present this September what is expected to be the first candidates’ forum for the 2018 Ohio governor’s race.

All candidates whose candidacies were covered by major news outlets will be invited to attend.

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Cox Media Group Ohio’s Market Vice President Rob Rohr said co-hosting this event from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 11 at Parrish Auditorium on the Miami University Regionals campus in Hamilton is the continued responsibility and obligation of this news outlet to keep the citizenry informed.

“It’s exciting to work with Miami University to host this event and give our region one of the first opportunities to convene these candidates under one roof and hear exactly how they will separate themselves to earn our votes to be the next Governor of Ohio,” Rohr said.

Center for Civic Engagement Director Sarah Woiteshek Pietzuch said the mission of civic education at Miami Regionals, for the students as well as the public “cannot be overstated.”

The forum also kicks off Miami’s Citizenship & Democracy Week, she said.

“This forum allows for our campuses and community to participate in the important statewide political process of electing the next leader of Ohio,” said Woiteshek Pietzuch. “To allow for our local Southwest Ohio communities to hear from their gubernatorial candidates is an important first step to getting to the voting booth in 2018.”

Invitations to the candidates are set to be delivered this week. Candidates set to be invited (listed by party and alphabetically) include:

Democratic Party

  • Connie Pillich, former state lawmaker
  • Joe Schiavoni, State Senator and former Minority Leader of the Ohio Senate
  • Betty Sutton, former U.S. Representative
  • Nan Whaley, mayor of Dayton

Republican Party

  • Mike DeWine, Ohio Attorney General
  • Jon Husted, Ohio Secretary of State
  • Jim Renacci, U.S. Representative
  • Mary Taylor, Ohio Lieutenant Governor

The shape of the governor’s office by the January 2019 swearing in ceremony will be partly dependent on what’s coming out of Washington, D.C., most notably with the national health care debate that will have big consequences in Ohio.

The two Republican health care bills, which are attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, would among other things significantly cut Medicaid funding — a program that was expanded in 2013 in Ohio and now provides health care coverage to some 700,000 Ohioans.

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Then there is the heroin crisis, which has devastated many parts of the state, especially in Butler County . More than 3,000 people died from unintentional overdoses in 2015, a 20.5 percent increase over 2014, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Last year's overdose deaths totals have yet to be released though it's expected to increase for 2016.

There's also issues surrounding bringing in high-paying jobs, testing requirements and funding of public education, police and community relations, and the implementation of medical marijuana in Ohio.

Hosting what is likely to be the first major candidates forum in this race is not only “a tremendous learning opportunity for our students,” but those in Southwest Ohio to hear from the candidates first-hand, said John Forren, Miami University Regionals political science professor.

Candidates will talk about their visions for the future, their plans for dealing with the state’s problems and their ideas about where they’ll lead the state, he said.

“The choice that we make as Ohioans in the 2018 governor’s race will have a major impact on life here in the state for a long time to come,” Forren said. “We see this forum as an important early opportunity both for the candidates to present themselves to the voters in Ohio and for those voters to gather the information that they will need to make an informed choice in the election next year.”

The forum is open to the public. The forum is also set to be streamed live online and is scheduled to air on AM 1290 and News 95.7 WHIO.

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