Jobs and the Economy
The key to a strong local economy is a strong workforce. Increasingly, companies are making location decisions based upon the availability of a skilled workforce. My focus will be a three-pronged approach.
First, I will work to ensure every family is able to send their children to college without a lifetime of student loan debt. We have done a tremendous disservice to many of our youth by telling them the only way to succeed is to go to college. As a society, we need to reintegrate the idea of nobility in being a craftsman. Learning a skilled trade is a way into a stable middle class and is a story we have forgotten to tell a generation of high school students. By investing in job training programs for the trades, we can attract private investment in our communities and get people back on work sites.
Second, as the fundamental structure of the economy has shifted, it has left some people in the workforce behind. This is what is referred to as the transitioning workforce. As a legislator, I will work to ensure workers left behind by globalization have access to resources. They should not have to choose between a poverty wage, dead end job or learning a new skill for the new economy with a living wage to support a family.
Lastly, I will fight for the rights of workers to unionize. It is no secret that when labor unions are strong, the middle class is strong. Republicans in Columbus have waged an all-out war on the rights of workers. As I did in 2011, volunteering my time to fight for the repeal of SB5, I will fight for the rights of workers to collectively bargain for fair wages and working conditions in Columbus. I will strongly oppose any "right-to-work" or "paycheck protection" initiatives introduced by the Republicans in Columbus to attack workers' rights.
In my role as the Project Manager for the Lorain County Port Authority, I work with the Lorain County Land Bank. The land bank is responsible for identifying abandoned and blighted houses and demolishing them. This program, while still new, has already been a great success for Lorain County.
As State Representative, I will work to expand funding for county land banks so counties can continue to demolish these blighted properties, which can serve as drug or prostitution houses or just bring down the value of the surrounding neighborhood. In addition, I will also work to open up the program to include funding for commercial properties as well. Currently, Ohio Housing Finance Agency demolition funds can only be used on residential properties, yet many municipalities have unsafe or decaying commercial properties as well but cannot access funds to demolish these properties. I will work to change the program so we can continue to demolish dilapidated residential properties and begin to demolish crumbling commercial properties in an effort to improve our communities.
As a person who owns firearms and has my concealed carry license, I am a supporter of the Second Amendment but I believe, like the First Amendment, there must be reasonable limitations to ensure public safety. I understand you cannot stop all violence through legislation but that should not stop us from taking common-sense steps to reduce gun violence.
As your State Representative I will push to ban the sale of bump stocks, a mechanism with the ability to turn a semi-automatic rifle into a fully automatic weapon meant for the battlefield, not for use on the patrons of country concerts. I will push to expand red flag programs to allow for early intervention so we can stop events like the Florida school shooting before they happen. I will also push for an expanded background check system and support efforts to make the current system more comprehensive. Lastly, I will work to close the gun show loophole and lengthen the mandatory waiting period for firearm purchases. Together, we can preserve America’s cultural heritage and traditions while protecting our children and our communities.
Supporting the Law Enforcement Community
There is no tougher job in public service than that of a law enforcement officer. As the brother of a Lorain Police Officer and as a former Law Enforcement Administration professional, I understand law enforcement officers are often asked to do more than just enforce the law. That’s why I would push to establish funding to allow Police Departments and Sheriff's Offices to go "Beyond the Badge" and take care of the men and women who risk their lives for our safety. Many of the situations our law enforcement officers face will be carried with them as they go home after their shift. These traumatic events weigh heavily on the hearts and minds of law enforcement officers and, because we ask so much of them, we owe them just as much in return.
First, I will work to expand funding for mental health services for law enforcement officers and I will push to codify protections for officers who seek help and treatment. Law enforcement officers should not lose standing in their department because they’re brave enough to ask for help. Second, I will fight to push to incorporate programs to take care of law enforcement families. I will advocate to properly fund a program to help the families of law enforcement officers in times of crisis. Third, I will be a champion for pay equity in the Law Enforcement Community. I do not think the zip code one patrols should determine their salary. I will also work to return local government funds to the communities they were taken from to ensure our safety agencies have the equipment they need to do their job safely and effectively.
As of 2017, Ohio has the third highest opioid death rate in the country, with only New Hampshire and West Virginia at higher rates. However, out of those states, Ohio witnessed the highest rate of increase from 2016. Simply put, Ohio’s situation is not only the third worst in the country, but it is getting significantly worse. We need to implement a comprehensive policy to deal with this crisis. First, we need to make sure safety services have the funding necessary so they have proper equipment, training, and Narcan. Second, we need to increase state funding for rehabilitation services for users, so we can get these folks sober and back to being productive members of society. Third, we need to make sure that pill mills and BIG PHARMA, are held accountable for pushing opiates into our communities at unprecedented rates. Fourth, we need to seek stronger sentencing guidelines for those who traffic opioids. We need to send a clear message to opioid dealers: if you sell drugs in our communities, you are going to prison.
Protecting Lake Erie and the Environment
In 2014, the Toledo water crisis reminded us Lake Erie is our most precious resource. With 26 miles of beautiful Lake Erie shoreline in Lorain County, we have a great responsibility. The Great Lakes represent 84% of the fresh water in the United States and 21% of the fresh water on the planet. It is our responsibility to take care of it. In Columbus I will do everything in my power to preserve and protect the our Great Lake.
I stand with the 97% of climate scientists who have concluded the climate change is real and that human activity is the main culprit. The good news is technological advances have made is so we no longer have to choose between protecting the environment and economic growth. The future of our economy is green and the recent efforts by the Republicans in the State House have made it harder for Ohio to reduce its dependence on carbon-based energy sources. New laws reducing our commitment to a renewable energy portfolio hurt Ohio consumers and the Ohio economy. I will fight to reduce our dependence on coal and expand renewable energy production in Ohio. I believe in a truly free market, where innovation is not held back by legislators beholden to the fossil fuel industry, green energy production will lower prices for consumers and create jobs