Because he arrived second, Lee Fisher (D) was the second to speak. Comments are given in bullet points and are not verbatim.
Background: President and CEO of the Center for Families and Children, serving northeast Ohio...home to a nationally recognized fatherhood initiative. Oversees 300 people and an $18 million budget...in 2004, winner of the non-profit executive of the year award. Former state senator, state representative and former Attorney General of Ohio. Candidate for governor in 1998. Notable accomplishments: author of the crime victims assistance law.
- Not exaggerating when I say that this is the most important political race, and it doesn't matter what your political affiliation.
- There's a tendency for "politicians" to speak from the mountaintop..."we know better than everyone else." I find this arrogant. We won't always be right and we won't always agree, but you'll say that this administration (Strickland/Fisher) is fair, listens, is responsive, flexible and treats us as full and equal partners.
- 26 years ago, the issue was unfunded mandates - still an issue today.
- No one in local government can do it alone - commissioners are closer to the gound than we'll ever be - we'll park our political and partisan hats at the door come January. Best leaders understand that politics stop on November 7th.
- This is a race for Ohio's future - stakes are huge - restoring pride and hope and faith. Our state is the heart of America - we are in the deepest trouble in last century - the edge of a cliff and governor choice will determine whether or not we go over.
- We're first in the wrong things and last in the good things.
- First in scandal and corruption - no political party has a lock on virtue - Democrats got arrogant and complacent and got kicked out of government in 1994...I was part that got kicked out, but I don't think I was arrogant or complacent...just part of the group.
- Ohioans have an intuitive sense of fairness. Don't want to see one-party control on a federal, state or local level, even though it's more understandable from a local level.
- A lock on offices leads to arrogance - a belief that a party "owns" the offices. You can't have politicans believe that they can trade offices like stops on a monopoly board.
- Blackwell focuses on socially devisive issues - abortion, gay rights, guns...Regardless of where you stand individually, there is a difference of opinions which needs to be respected. But focusing on such issues creates fear and diverts attention from the role of government in creating jobs and educating children.
- Ohio is 50th is small business creation, 39th in the number of college degrees, 1st in home forclosures, 10th in terms of the highest tuition rates...old bumper sticker I like: If you're not angry or offended, you're not paying attention.
- Need to put party aside - this affects the future of YOUR families and the approach you take to government is more important than position papers.
- Five-point agenda: 1) restore honesty, integrity and accountability; 2) stop trying to turn Ohioans against each other - turn toward each other to turn Ohio around; 3) don't distract Ohioans from what's most important; 4) live within our means and invest in what matters; and 5) single most important thing - tell the truth...lead with real solutions not quick-fix slogans.
- Democrats should be as fiscally conservative as Republicans have the reputation for being.
- Wants to do a top to bottom review of state government. For every problem there's an answer that is simple, neat and wrong.
- TEL stands for Truly Escaping Leadership...it is insulting, offensive and inexcusable to tell people we're going to put guardrails on the government road, but we're going to handcuff you and not allow you to steer the car as it goes down that road.
- Don't need someone who says one thing in the primary and another in the general election - who says one thing to Republicans and another thing to everyone else.
- Need a governor who will be consistent even if it means he loses your vote.
- Isn't this harsh, you'll ask? This is a campaign for the future - not about who's nicer - it's about who's the better candidate. I'm not going to squander the opportunity to make the point.
- What will happen when Blackwell gets to be governor? Will he say that the statutory TEL isn't working? Will he focus again on passing a constitutional amendment? I'm not being partisan when I say be careful about him bringing back the TEL.
- What we will do...unbreakable link between educational attainment and economic prosperity - the more you learn, the more you earn. Build a first-class educational system...learning is life-long...state's responsibility to give education to young.
- Knowledge Bank - create a culture of thinking about college in kindergarten...invest money to supplement earnings - each child gets a bank account and the state will put money into the account every single year - ask businesses to match money from the state...every child should be able to say that finances won't prevent me from going to college.
- Reduce school reliance on property tax - state must take the largest piece of the funding pie.
- Strategically invest in strengths - focusing on the strengths of each region.
CONCLUSION: I'm passionate and apologize for going on so long. The state will be your strongest, fairest partner, bringing flexibility and responsiveness. And no unfunded mandates.
***NOTE: Fisher did not stay within the requested time limit CCAO had given.
Next column will be my personal impressions of the two speeches and the points made...