I know from personal experience, we all know from our life experience, that if opportunity exists Ohioans will seize it. We'll go to school, we'll work hard, and we will build things, roads, bridges, companies large and small, safe neighborhoods, great communities, and a better life for this and generations to come.
I’m running for the Ohio House because I want to make Ohio the one place in the nation that creates more opportunities than any other for every resident, no matter where they live, no matter what they do, no matter who they are, to reach their full potential and realize their dreams.
Let's make Ohio the Opportunity State...
Along with being my number one priority, this issue is close to my heart because the kids I teach in Youngstown are every bit as inquisitive, talented, and eager to learn as kids in Canfield and Poland and Boardman and New Middletown. That's why I believe every child in Ohio should have the opportunity to receive a world-class public education whether he or she lives in the inner-city, Appalachia, on a farm, or in an affluent suburb. No student should have their future determined by their zip code.
More than 20 years after being declared unconstitutional, Ohio’s school funding formula remains a disaster. Republicans chronically shortchange our public schools while spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to prop up failed for-profit charters and pay for private school vouchers. As a result, school leaders are forced to raise local property taxes, impose fees for athletics and extra-curricular activities, increase class sizes, and eliminate courses.
As a member of the House, I’ll fight for a new funding formula that will reduce the reliance on local property taxes and ban for-profit charters. When we do we will be able to invest in academic success by strengthening our primary and secondary schools, providing teachers with the resources they need including state-of-the-art technology, delivering wrap-around services that strengthen families and communities, and making college and advanced training accessible and affordable for all Ohioans.
State Budget and Tax Policy
The state's budget and tax policies must create opportunities for all Ohioans to compete and succeed in the 21st Century. Instead, of creating those opportunities, the politicians who have controlled Columbus for far too long repeatedly cut funding for public schools and universities, local governments, and critical infrastructure projects to pay for the huge tax cuts they've doled out to their wealthy campaign contributors.
We must change direction by increasing our investment in programs and initiatives that will drive growth and development in the years ahead. That means devoting more state dollars to public primary, secondary, and higher education, restoring support for our cities, townships, and villages, and building infrastructure that will help us attract business and good-paying jobs. And we can pay for it all by ensuring that those who have benefited from years of misguided tax policy begin paying their fair share--it's time for Wall Street to rebuild Main Streets here in the Valley and across Ohio.
The ongoing Covid-19 crisis underscores the need to ensure that every Ohioan has access to affordable, high-quality health care. That begins by protecting Medicaid expansion which has extended coverage to 639,000 Ohioans and reduced the number of uninsured children and adults by 46%. I will oppose any legislation that would reduce the number of people covered under this incredibly successful program.
In addition, the crisis has made it abundantly clear that our state, like many others, was not prepared for a serious health emergency. As a member of the House, I will support increased funding for our health care system so our doctors, nurses, First Responders, hospitals, and clinics have the resources they need to keep our families safe and healthy--paid for by rolling back the tax cuts for the top percent that have made it impossible for Ohio to invest in and modernize our health care infrastructure.
As a former EMT, trained firefighter, and most especially as a parent, I believe every Ohioan should have the opportunity to live in a safe, secure neighborhood. Unfortunately, current Republican officials are putting us all at risk by slashing support for villages, townships, cities, and counties. Those cuts make it extremely difficult for local leaders to protect our families.
Here in Mahoning County, Sheriff Greene, Prosecutor Paul Gains, Commissioners Rimedio-Righetti, Ditzler, and Traficanti along with business, labor, and community leaders joined together to promote a sales tax levy that generates the revenue needed to operate our courts, the Sheriff's Department, prosecutor's office, 911, and other critical services. Residents approved it overwhelmingly--which illustrates that we care more about public safety than the current Republicans who run the General Assembly.
As the next state rep from the 59th District, I'll fight for increased local government funding that will enable our leaders to hire more cops and firefighters and support innovative criminal justice programs including our highly effective drug and veterans courts, that will make our communities safer and more secure than ever before.
Economic Development and Jobs
The formula for attracting and retaining business and good-paying jobs is time-tested: create an appealing environment that features:
A vibrant arts and culture community
A well-educated and highly motivated workforce
Sufficient traditional and high-tech infrastructure
Access to major transportation arteries
Ample supply of affordable, usable land
Supportive government officials and community leaders
That formula should sound familiar because it’s what enabled us to attract Vallourec Star and become both a leading center in the cutting-edge additive manufacturing industry as well as a focal point of the electric vehicle revolution via Lordstown Motors and the high-tech battery plant that will be built and operated by LG and GM.
I'll work hard to drive our area's transition from the “Rust Belt” to a shining example of all the possibilities and opportunities that exist in the emerging “Tech Belt" by fighting for state funding that will enable us to rekindle the spirit of innovation that inspired Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, and John Glenn to change the world. Remember, a few short years ago, there was no Silicon Valley, no Microsoft or Apple, there were just some guys working in their garage. At this very moment, there’s someone working somewhere on the next big thing—I want it to take flight in our Valley.
Women's, Civil, and Human Rights
Shameful. Disgusting. Distressing. Abysmal. Ghastly. Sordid. Horrible. Sickening. Repulsive. Revolting.
There simply aren't enough words to describe the Ohio GOP's vile record on women's, civil, and human rights which include a relentless assault on women's health care and reproductive choice, constant attacks against the LGBTQ community, and persistent efforts to suppress the vote - which is our most sacred American ethos.
I look forward to joining the Democratic Caucus and standing with heroes like Leader Emilia Sykes and Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan as they fight tirelessly to preserve, protect, and defend the rights guaranteed to us all by the U.S. and Ohio Constitutions. I will vigorously oppose legislation that seeks to erase the right to choose, exposes LGTBQ persons to harassment and assault, or makes it difficult for people to register and vote. We should be expanding safe, reliable voting options at every opportunity.
Ohio's elected officials should be committed to expanding opportunities for all regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, creed, or ethnicity. My constituents and the people of Ohio can count on me to do exactly that when I am elected to the House. I am also proud to note that I have been endorsed by both the Youngstown-Warren Black Caucus and NARAL.
As a union member and educator who teaches both History and Social Studies I know that union membership has been the key to prosperity for millions of Americans. And I also know that in today's economy which favors Wall Street over Main Street, ensuring that workers have the opportunity to join a union is more important than ever before.
Not surprisingly, Republicans don't agree. That's why they constantly introduce bills designed to restrict the rights of those who already belong to unions and make it difficult, if not impossible for working men and women to join. I've been endorsed by the AFL-CIO because organized labor trusts me to fight for working men and women all day, every day. Here's a snapshot of my positions on a number of critical labor issues:
I strongly support Ohio’s prevailing wage laws and as a member of the Ohio House I will oppose the GOP’s perennial attempts to erode them, which in 2019 came in the form of HB 78. Along with fighting to preserve prevailing wage and resist attempts to increase the cost of exempt projects, I will also support legislation that gives all political subdivisions the right to enter into project labor agreements.
Public Sector Collective Bargaining
As a former First Responder, an educator who has worked in both union and non-union settings, and a proud member of OEA/YEA I know first-hand that Ohio’s public sector collective bargaining law is extremely valuable. Not only does it assure that public sector workers receive a fair wage, health care benefits, and a pension, it helps government at every level attract and maintain highly qualified workers.
As a member of the Ohio House, I will vigorously oppose attacks on 4117 while advocating for legislation that will lessen the impact of the Janus decision on Ohio’s public sector unions and their members.
Right To Work
Right-to-work (for Less) is a cruel hoax. Residents in right-to-work states are poorer, less well educated, and less healthy than those in states like Ohio that value the right to organize. We must protect Ohio’s future and families by beating back any effort to impose this failed policy on our state.