By Wayne Gates
Sun Group Newspapers
Ohio Governor John Kasich was the guest of honor at the Brown County Lincoln Day/Ronald Reagan Celebration by the Brown County Republican Party.
More than 200 elected officials, party members and supporters turned out at Southern Hills Career and Technology Center on March 3 to hear Kasich and others speak.
Prior to taking the podium, Kasich spent a few moments speaking to local reporters.
When asked about the economic outlook for Brown County and the surrounding area, the Governor said it all came down to one word: jobs.
“We are seeing more economic opportunities in the region,” Kasich said. “We have the ability for companies to come in, keep their costs down and at the same time, take advantage of the wonderful work ethic and the infrastructure we have to be able to move things. The bottom line is, we are focusing on southern Ohio. We are looking at what natural positives these communities have that can bring employment down here.”
He said that schools like SHCTC help in that regard.
“This is a wonderful operation here. You are getting kids ready to be skilled workers, which is also a concern of employers. Career tech helps get that done.”
Kasich added that balancing the state budget without raising taxes also helps the state get serious looks from employers.
“When you go from eight billion in the hole to one and a half billion in the black, that is increasingly becoming a great aspect of economic development. You are stable and you’re strong and companies will see that as a great asset.”
He also unveiled a new plan by the state to keep in closer contact with students who are ready to become job seekers.
“Starting April 1, we are going to be able to have on kids phones the jobs that are in demand, what they pay and what it takes to get one. So rather than train people in a vacuum, we are going to train them for the jobs that exist. When you get them connected with something they have a passion for, it changes everything,” Kasich said.
The governor also addressed the issue of drug addiction in Brown County and the state, saying that he was working on more options for breaking the addiction cycle.
“We brought these Medicaid dollars home so we can treat the mentally ill so we can fight drug addiction and give people a chance,” Kasich said.
He also said the people of southern Ohio have a special place in his heart.
“These are great people and I love them. They are God-fearing and hard working and all they want is a chance. The single biggest thing we need to work on is giving people reason to be hopeful about their own future and the future of their community.”
Kasich also addressed the speculation that he is considering a run for President of the United States in 2016.
“I’m flattered, but I’m not interested,” Kasich said.
The governor was then introduced to a standing ovation by Danny Bupb. Kasich covered many of the points he had discussed during his interview with The Brown County Press, and echoed a theme of personal service and looking out for those who are less fortunate.
“It’s important to help the working poor,” Kasich said. “It’s also important to have a welfare system where if somebody gets a raise, they don’t have to turn it down because they’re somehow going to lose a benefit on the first extra dollar they make. We want people to be able to go to work, not be stuck in welfare for the rest of their lives. We have to build a system to train them, teach them and help them to get out of that.”
Following Kasich’s remarks, dinner was served and then the first Hall Of Fame Award from the Brown County Republican Party was awarded to longtime party fixture Bill Herdman.
“Bill has been instrumental in the success our party has had over the years and has the values that we all admire,” said party chair Mariah Votel. “The Hall of Fame award for him is well-deserved.”
Votel said that the priority for the Brown County GOP this year was to ensure the election of Danny Bubp for Juvenile/Probate Judge and Jill Hall for County Auditor. Bubp and Hall will face opposition in the general election in November.
Other GOP elected officials, including Common Pleas Judge Scott Gusweiler and County Commissioner Tony Applegate are unopposed at this time in the general election.