By Marc Kovac
Gov. John Kasich is eyeing northwest Ohio for next month’s State of the State speech, again taking the annual address to lawmakers on the road.
Kasich hasn’t formally informed legislative leaders of his intentions or publicly pinpointed the exact location, but he confirmed the decision to reporters Wednesday after an event in Columbus.
“I can’t tell you yet, because I have to write a letter to the Legislature and ask their permission to allow me to again leave the capitol,” the governor said, adding, “Last year, we were east; this year, it will be more on the west.”
Last year, Kasich offered the speech in Steubenville, marking the first time in modern history that the State of the State was offered outside of Ohio’s capital city.
There are numerous sites for the governor to pick for this year’s speech. He could go to North Baltimore, a community Kasich frequently touts for its new intermodal facility.
Or he could go to Celina, the hometown of new Senate President Keith Faber and adjacent to Grand Lake St. Marys, the focus of state cleanup efforts in recent years.
But the move is likely to disappoint some lawmakers, including Rep. Ronald Gerberry, a Democrat from Austintown and critic of Kasich’s decision to have last year’s State of the State outside of Columbus.
In response, Gerberry introduced legislation that would have required the speech to be offered in the Ohio House chambers, whether by the governor in person or broadcast for members to watch.
Gerberry was debating whether to reintroduce that bill — it has no chance of passing the Republican-controlled chamber — but he reiterated his disappointment that Kasich would again break tradition this year.
“I just think it’s a slap in the face of tradition — a tradition that should be honored,” Gerberry said.
“The governor thinks that his opinion on where the speech should be given is more significant than the history and tradition of the State of the State,” he said.
Gerberry has served more than a dozen terms since the 1980s and been on hand for more than 20 State of the States.
He’ll likely be on hand for this year’s speech, too.