Husted makes stop in Ironton

Sep. 25—Lieutenant governor discusses economy, workforce development

Lt. Gov. Jon Husted says the priority of the Republican ticket for a second term of Gov. Mike DeWine as governor is "helping the people of Ohio achieve their God-given potential."

"And that means a number of things," he said. "That might mean helping more kids to graduate high school career-ready. That might mean helping people overcome a mental health or addiction issue. It might mean continuing to grow our economy, in terms of making sure people have access to great jobs."

Husted was in Ironton on Thursday, discussing economic development in the state at a fundraising reception at Weymouth Hill Event Venue.

The Lieutenant governor spoke with the Tribune before the event started.

"Right now, in Ohio, we're creating jobs faster than we can find people to fill them — the economy is growing and manufacturing is coming back," Husted said. "And so we want everybody to participate in a more prosperous future and we're going to try to knock down every barrier that stands in the way of achieving their potential."

On the opioid epidemic that has impacted the region, Husted said the thing he would most like to see is "We need President Biden and federal government to protect the southern border."

"The problem is that we sued the drug companies and we stopped them from poisoning our people from prescription opioids, but, at the same time, President Biden has not secured the southern border and so the fentanyl is coming in through there," Husted said. "We have human trafficking, drug trafficking happening at the border and we need to get the federal government to do its job. Hopefully, we'll make some changes this election cycle and make that happen."

With the general election less than 50 days away, Husted was asked what issues he hears about most from voters as he campaigns across the state.

"It's two things — inflation and crime," he said. "And what that means is that people they may have a job, but because fuel prices have gone up and food prices have gone up, its really strained families and businesses."

He said he also hears about the need for housing construction.

"Finding affordable places to live is an issue," he said.

When speaking with businesses, Husted said he often hears from employers about the difficulty in finding enough people to work.

"We have plenty of jobs," he said. "We just have to find more people take those jobs."

One remedy he cited was working with local career centers in upgrading broadband service throughout the state.

"We're expanding and finding workforce opportunities to put the broadband in," Husted said.

He said the state is investing, through both the public and private sector for the project.

"But we've got to have a workforce to do it.," he said. "And so we're working with our career centers and places like that to train people to put the fiber in and build the infrastructure."

On the issue of crime, he said much of it is rooted in the issue of drugs.

"It's caused by not securing our southern border," he said. "A lot of the challenges we have in Ohio are because of failed policies in Washington — the border, inflation — all of those are created because of policies that came out of federal government, but we're going to do our best in Ohio to confront those things and move Ohio forward."

When asked where he feels the campaign stands as the election nears, Husted said he has always believed that "Good government is good politics."

"We've managed Ohio through a pandemic, landed the largest economic project in the free world when Intel picked Ohio, we're creating jobs at a record pace and we've created a rising tide that's started to lift all boats," he said. "I believe because of that, I hear really positive feedback on the campaign trail."

He said this was on display earlier in the day, when he made a stop at the apple festival in Jackson.

"Everybody was optimistic about their future," Husted said. "We have $500 million in building out transformative projects in the Appalachian parts of the state and I think because of those, were getting a lot support on the campaign trail."

DeWine and Husted face Democratic former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and her running mate, Cuyahoga County Council member Cheryl Stephens, in the gubernatorial race.

— Also in Ironton on Thursday was Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy, who is running for chief justice on the November ballot. An interview with her will run in Wednesday's edition of The Tribune.