Strickland gets feet wet with first veto in his job as Ohio's new governor



The governor's first day on the job was a busy one, including his swearing-in.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
Ted Strickland said his responsibilities in his new job as governor are great, but he is up to the challenge.
"It's like jumping into a pool with the water above your head," Strickland told The Vindicator on Monday, his first day as governor. "You've got to start swimming."
Although it would be easy to get caught up in the aura of being governor, Strickland said he is trying hard to stay humble.
"Sitting in this historic office, I realize it's a long way from the chicken shack," Strickland said from the governor's office, comparing it with growing up poor in rural Ohio, where his family lived in a chicken shack for a while.
"I'm aware of the responsibilities that go with this office," he said. "...This office is special, but I don't consider myself special."
It was a busy first day, Strickland said.
It started at 12:01 a.m. with his official swearing-in, a quiet ceremony. The public swearing-in, expected to attract a large crowd, is set for Saturday, as is a series of events, capped by the inaugural ball.
Statehouse office
Strickland, a Lisbon Democrat, also spent Monday moving in to the governor's mansion and into his gubernatorial office on the bottom floor of the Statehouse. Ex-Gov. Bob Taft worked out of the 30th floor of the Riffe Building during his eight years running the state and used the Statehouse office primarily for ceremonial events and for storage, Strickland said.
But the new governor prefers the Statehouse location because it's closer to the state Legislature and is more accessible to officeholders than the Riffe location.
Governor's first veto
Strickland also vetoed a bill Monday that he says weakens consumer protections regarding predatory lenders. Taft opted not to sign the bill into law during his final days in office, meaning it would have gone into law 10 days after the Legislature approved it.
Strickland said he was able to veto the bill because Monday was that 10th day.
Strickland's first opportunity to address a large audience is at his Saturday swearing-in ceremony, but he's going to keep his inaugural address short and to the point.
In preparing for the address, Strickland said he's read other inaugural speeches and discovered that most of them are brief.
Strickland is working on an address that will be about 12 to 15 minutes long. Strickland plans to thank voters for electing him and ask other elected officials in the state to work with him to address important issues such as job creation, economic development, health care and education.
Cooperation
"I will talk about the obligations and priorities we should establish," he said. "The themes in the speech will be consistent with the message I talked about during the campaign. I'm not going to sugarcoat the problems. ... I'll talk about the need to work together to get things done. This job will require a level of cooperation that hasn't been seen in years."
Strickland said he will be more specific about what needs to be done during his first State of the State address. He expects that speech to be given in mid-March.
When asked about the best advice Taft gave him about being governor, Strickland said: "Gov. Taft had a short handwritten letter hand delivered to me. He wished me luck and asked if he could be of assistance or help to me to please contact him."
Strickland said he could see himself calling Taft if he faces circumstances Taft previously faced.
On Monday, Strickland reiterated a point he's made before about the Mahoning Valley: "If the people of the Mahoning Valley had not embraced me in 2002 when I ran for Congress, I would have never had the opportunity to seek the governorship. ... I have a special appreciation for the Mahoning Valley people."
skolnick@vindy.com

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