RIO GRANDE — Ohio gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Mike DeWine stopped in Meigs and Gallia Counties on Monday to meet with area residents as election day fast approaches, Nov. 6.
While also visiting Pomeroy, DeWine stopped in Rio Grande at the Bob Evans Farm to speak with diners and visitors.
Bob Evans’ son, Steve Evans, was present to welcome DeWine to the region.
“I met DeWine through my parents because I believe they had met his years ago. Back then he was a senator…I said now tell me about him. They said he was in the seed business and was a farm boy from Cedarville. That was important to dad and stuck in mind that his roots were rural and agricultural. There’s an integrity, learning right and wrong and making sure work gets done right. That’s the culture of agriculture… They’re whole life, the stories you hear and know about them,” said Evans of the DeWine family, “they’re just small town folks that did well and worked hard.”
“This is a state that if you drive through it, it looks like it’s all agriculture,” said DeWine. “We also know we have some major cities, so we’re kind of a fascinating mix. One of the things that I tell people in rural areas is that I grew up in a small town, so I understand them. My commitment is we’re not going to just focus on Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati. We’re going to focus on all 88 counties.”
“I’m a big proponent of local government and local control,” said DeWine. “I find that how problems get solved…My job as governor is to be a good partner to Gallia and Meigs County, both elected officials and other leaders in the community. Jobs and economic development are vitally important…Our commitment, I, nor anybody in my administration, will forget southeast Ohio and southern Ohio or forget the rural counties. I’m optimistic and think we’ve come a long way in the last eight years, as far as our economy in Ohio.”
DeWine said of the challenges his office would focus on include drug crisis through prevention and education. Every school child would receive some piece of education focused on prevention, every year, said the candidate.
“We have 20 counties that don’t have drug courts,” said DeWine. “Drug courts work well and we’re going to try and help those other counties get drug courts, if they want. The courts are tough love. You go down the pathway of criminal justice system or we’ll put you into treatment.”
“I started my career as a prosecutor, so I understand local government,” said DeWine. “We’re going to do what we can to restore funding to the local government fund. We’re going to put real emphasis on children’s services. This is an area where the state has been neglectful frankly. We are 50th out of 50 states in what the state provides for the local children’s services. We’re last. So we’re going to change that…We have a pilot project in that we’re paying for out of the attorney general’s office. It’s not usually what the AG does, but we’re going to pay for that. We’re going to spread that to every county in the state when I’m governor when we can put it into our budget…The third thing is we are going to try to help our sheriffs and our police departments with multi-jurisdictional task forces with the drug problem. I want every part of the state to be covered by a task force. That’s not true today. It’s not that people don’t want it. It’s a question of money…So, we’re going to boost that up…All these things are things we will do to help local elected officials get the job done…If you look at all the different services provided by the state, it’s mostly through local (government).”
“Here’s what the drug problem has done and you see it,” said DeWine. “You’ve got more people in jail. You’ve got people in jail who are detoxing. Emergency squads, whoever is paying for those and sending them out whether county or township, they’re paying for Naloxone. They’re doing a lot more runs than ever done before. Children’s services, half the kids are in foster care because one or both parents are drug addicts. This drug thing has all come down on local government, so I’m very mindful of that.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.