RIO GRANDE — Gallia Republicans invited visitors from near and far Thursday evening for their annual Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner at the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community college.
Keynote speaker, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, shared his opinions on the importance of taking care of America’s youth, fighting its drug epidemics and ensuring a strong economic future.
Among those visiting were State Representative Ryan Smith, State Senator Bob Peterson and Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith French.
Cole Durst, of Middleport, was recognized as the highest scoring sophomore in the state on the Americanism government test given by the American Legion. Reportedly, 57,000 high school students took the test. Durst was awarded a five-day trip to Washington D.C. for his efforts and he took second place in the state in all class levels in the American Legion’s Constitutional Oratorical Contest. He presented his speech before the assembled.
Husted would take the floor after Durst. He shared he was originally from Montpelier and his parents were no nonsense folks. Husted received a bachelor’s and master’s degree as well as All-American Defensive Back honors in his time at University of Dayton. Husted claims that by cutting costs and improving technology, his office will be able to run with no taxpayer money for the following two years. Husted has also been contemplating a run for the office of Ohio Governor.
“My parents raised the family with a philosophy of no excuses, just get the job done,” said Husted. “You’ve got to walk the talk when people put you in these offices. Else why should they trust you? We have to do these kinds of things as Republicans. We have to lead by example … You set the standard and hope others will follow it.”
“We’ve won and now we’ve got to lead. We’ve got the president, the Senate and the House of Representatives,” said Husted of the federal government. “If Republicans don’t lead over the next two years, you know what’s going to happen. In the next four years, (voters) will send the opposite message. We’ve got to deliver and walk the talk.”
Husted said he was fulfilling this through such endeavors as making improvements in the business services division of his office.
“You want to form a business in Ohio, you do it in my office,” said Husted. “When I got there, I walked in the first day and said explain to me how this happens. ‘You have to fill out all these forms and it takes four days to happen and costs $125.’ I said why don’t we automate this and make this easier. So, we did. Since doing that, we set a record for the number of new business starts in Ohio every year. We’re up 30 percent because we automated and we don’t need as many people. While state spending at the time went up 17 percent, we cut spending by 16 percent. Thirty-three percent fewer people work for me now.”
Husted would go on to stress the importance of providing a future for America’s youth. He shared his university football experiences as a means of lessons about working to strive for a better future. Husted shared that he was raised an adopted child to “hardworking” parents and that many youth in Ohio felt the same opportunity to get ahead by working hard was disappearing, that the American Dream may no longer be within reach.
“We’re raised to believe in America that you can do anything you want,” said Husted. “If you’re willing to pay the price and work hard and be tough and fight for the things you want and believe in, we believe you can accomplish it. That’s how I was raised. That’s what I think most people think it means to be an American.”
“For some people, they don’t feel like they’re getting ahead,” said Husted. “Wages aren’t keeping pace. For people, and their children, for their version of the American Dream, they feel like they’re losing access to it. That’s not American. We got to figure out what’s happening to those people and how we’re going to help them. The people I’m worried about most though are the kids.”
Husted claimed 41 percent of children in Ohio were on the free or reduced lunch program in public school.
Husted said that Americans worst enemies were themselves and that was the current population’s greatest struggle. If it wanted to change America would need to take a “hard look in the mirror” and decide what to do about it. Husted said those in office have the responsibility to do so and that the public had trusted him in office for 17 years to do so, whether as a legislator or other role.
“We can do this,” said Husted. “Every generation of Americans who came before us faced tough challenges and they did something about it to give us this great country… Sometimes the enemy has been a foreign invader, sometimes within. I would say America’s biggest problems are not from somebody from some other country but they are right inside our borders. It’s us. We’ve lost our way, but we’ve got to find that way and it’s going to take all of us.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342,