By Alex Knisely

One of the four Republican candidates running for governor of Ohio said she intends to be the Buckeye State's first elected woman governor.

Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor visited Dover and New Philadelphia Monday as part of a one-day tour through the state that had her traveling down Interstate 77, beginning in Akron and making stops in Carroll, Noble, Tuscarawas and Washington counties.

Other Republic candidates who have officially declared they are seeking to head Ohio's executive branch are Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Jon Husted, and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci.

Three of the five declared Democrat candidates are women: Former state representative Connie Pillich, former U.S. representative Betty Sutton and Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley. Ohio has never had a woman elected as governor. However, Nancy Hollister, a former lieutenant governor, was Ohio's only woman governor when she served out the remainder of George Voinovich's term after his resignation in December 1998. Hollister served for 11 days before Bob Taft's term began.

Taylor, 51, and a native of Green, was traveling through Ohio with state Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta. After having lunch with a couple local GOP leaders at the Tuscarawas County Republic Headquarters in Dover, Taylor stopped by The Times-Reporter.

Here's what she had to say about a number of topics:

Taylor's agenda

 

Taylor said she wants to continue a focus on creating and continuing jobs in the state, which requires a fix to the education system.

That could include giving high school students the necessary tools for after they graduate and either go to college or immediately enter the workforce. If students decide they want to start a career right after high school, schools need to offer their students during their four-year tenures skills and training for jobs.

"I don't think we should wait until these kids get out of high school," she said.

With almost 460,000 Ohioans back to work in the private sector, "I'd like to build on the strengths, I'd like to build on the progress that we've made," Taylor added.

Taylor is all for continuing regulatory reform. She would like to expand the reach of the Common Sense Initiative (CSI). Gov. John Kasich appointed Taylor to lead the CSI, which is aimed at helping make a more "jobs-friendly" regulatory climate in Ohio.

Opiate addiction crisis

 

"It's a complex problem and it needs a comprehensive solution."

That's how Taylor is focusing on Ohio's drug addiction problem. Drug overdose deaths in Ohio increased from 2,531 in 2014 to 3,050 in 2015, according to the Department of Health. She said there needs to be more, and better, drug-abuse treatment.

To combat drug sales and use, specifically opiates, Taylor suggests getting assistance from the federal government to use their technology and intelligence to shut down drugs entering the country through the north and south borders, and shut down the drug cartels' businesses.

Taylor said law enforcement needs to be tougher on drug dealers and have public information campaigns to talk to youngsters about the dangers of drug use.

"We've got to get at the demand side, which is people wanting the drugs in the first place," Taylor said. "Then, we need a comprehensive law enforcement approach where we have good communication across all levels of law enforcement in order to get the drug dealers off our streets."

Medicaid Expansion

 

Taylor is in favor of repealing Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act).

"It's not sustainable," she said. "I've been saying since day one, Obamacare is not sustainable," adding that premiums in Ohio have gone up 91 percent.

Her idea is to design a flexible system to cover different populations of people, but she says that can't be done because of Obamacare. That system would allow states to provide their own health insurance opportunities that will help the most poverty-stricken individuals to the richest. Also, she wants to get more people back to work, where health insurance is provided potentially by their employers.

Severance tax

 

Taylor isn't in favor of increasing the state's severance tax on the oil and gas industry.

But if communities need help with infrastructure problems because of the oil and gas industry, Taylor said she supports a public-private partnership to address them.

Rather, she said she thinks it would be best if local governments have public-private partnerships to help rehabilitate roads and infrastructure damaged by the oil and gas industry. One example of that partnerships is a Roadway Use Maintenance Agreement (RUMA).

Counties like Tuscarawas have RUMAs in place for companies that do business inside the county and could damage roads their heavy vehicles frequently travel on.

"We should always look for those to be opportunities and not only assume the only answer is government," she said.

Those partnerships should also benefit communities in other ways besides roads. Some places, like Scio in Harrison County, have large plants for the oil and gas industry, but the small villages were plagued with issues like contaminated water (as was the case for Scio last year). Public-private partnerships should also help smaller towns with small tax bases, Taylor said.

Charter schools

 

Taylor believes that "parents should have the right to choose the type of school or the school that their kids go to."

Taylor said the next governor of Ohio should look into re-designing the state's charter school system to get it back to what it was originally intended for: being innovation centers and being quality choices for parents. That could mean more appropriate, better oversight on charter schools.

(c)2017 The Times-Reporter, New Philadelphia, Ohio