Thursday, September 8, 2016
By Sean Barron
Ohio House Democratic Leader Fred Strahorn was disillusioned when he heard a woman describe on talk radio how she felt she’d never be able to attain a middle-class lifestyle her parents had.
“This is the critical phase of the election cycle,” Strahorn said during a news conference he and a series of House Democrats gave Wednesday evening at Kingly Hand Wash & Wax, 280 W. Front St., downtown. “We’re traveling the state to promote our vision.”
Key items of the Democrats’ “Focus on the Future” tour were increasing working Ohioans’ income; expanding paid family leave; investing more in the state’s infrastructure; making college more affordable; tackling the opioid epidemic; and implementing ways to make the tax system more fair and equitable for working families.
The challenges and struggles many Mahoning Valley families have faced over the years – including job losses en masse and crumbling infrastracture – are similar to those many in Belmont and Monroe counties have endured, said state Rep. Jack Cera of Bellaire, D-96th.
A viable force in building the state were the Valley’s major steel mills, which made it necessary for the region to reinvent itself. So it’s imperative that efforts continue to invest in people and communities, said state Rep. John Boccieri of Poland, D-59th, who contended the state Legislature, controlled by Republicans, cut an estimated $1.7 billion in local government funds from communities statewide.
Efforts need to continue toward training programs to create a viable workforce for a 21st-century world, noted state Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan of Youngstown, D-58th. Along those lines, if today’s students are to thrive and compete in such a job market, college must be more affordable for them to allow them to be “the innovators of tomorrow,” she continued.
City Councilman Julius Oliver, D-1st, who owns Kingly’s Youngstown and Boardman locations, called for more state elected officials to support small businesses, saying such entities often employ a greater number of workers than large corporations.
John Dyce, the Democratic candidate for House District 5, called the opioid epidemic “a statewide public health emergency” and said the state should be more proactive in funding efforts to treat the scourge that continues to undermine many communities. House Bill 4 made naloxone more readily available, but treatment centers and programs also should receive more funding, he said. Naloxone blocks or reverses the effects of opioid medication.
Also making remarks was state Rep. Nicholas Cele- brezze of Parma, D-15th.