The mayor said Strickland knows there are no great states without great cities.
By NANCY TULLIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- With a late summer chill in the air on Federal Plaza, Mahoning Valley Democrats launched a 66-day campaign for gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland.
Their message was the hope of change in Columbus on Election Day, Nov. 7.
"Can you feel it in your bones? Are you ready for change?" Strickland asked Democrats gathered Friday for a rally that also featured appearances by former Cleveland Browns players Jim Brown and Reggie Rucker, and music by Boyz II Men.
With 66 days to work before the election, Strickland said Democrats must change Ohio to begin the process of changing America.
"The eyes of the nation are on us," Strickland said. "That's why [presidential aide] Karl Rove came to Ohio. That's why George W. Bush came to Ohio."
Strickland said he thinks Rove, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are worrying about how to save Ohio for their special-interest friends.
"For too long the focus has been on special friends and special interests," Strickland said.
He said Ohio children have gone too long without a quality education while Ohio political leadership has ignored a mandate from the Ohio Supreme Court to fix school funding. He said the people of Ohio have suffered under incompetent and sometimes illegal leadership.
Strickland said he will put together an administration that "looks like the people of Ohio," with representatives from all walks of life, ethnic backgrounds and religions in his office.
"Ohioans are thirsty for change," Strickland said.
"We are rejecting fear and hate and embracing hope and optimism and a brighter future for our state and the people we love."
Support from mayor
Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams introduced Strickland stating he wasn't endorsing him because of party label, because of pressure to do so, because someone threatened his political career, or because he agrees with Strickland on every issue.
"I support Ted Strickland because he earned it," Williams said.
He said early in the campaign Strickland recognized the importance of Youngstown and its black community, and put together plans for job creation, urban entrepreneurship, school funding and safe and healthy communities.
"He knows there are no great states without great cities," Williams said.
U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Cleveland, D-11th, and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, fired up the crowd before Strickland spoke.
Ryan said the party needs everyone to work hard to elect Strickland and other Democrats in November, because "We need not just a few hundred votes, but a mandate to change."
"Stop asking what Democrats are doing for you, and get out there and start working for Democrats," Tubbs Jones said. "Ohio has the nation's poorest cities. We need to change Ohio for working people. We need a living wage, not a minimum wage. You ought to be able to afford a house and send your kids to college. If you want change, get out and work for it."