Columbus — Gov. John Kasich recounted a conversation he had with a friend while driving through a south-side neighborhood earlier this year.
This was after Kasich signed a $2.4 billion capital budget in a former school that, with state support via the same capital budget, will become a community center.
Kasich told his friend that the latter was how government should work to meet the needs of residents in a neglected inner city community that was high on poverty and low on high school diplomas.
“… What if we all dig in and we do a comprehensive approach of treating kids from an early age all the way through, not giving up hope?” the governor recalled telling his friend. “Giving them the food, giving them the medicine, giving them the training and giving them the job? … It won’t be the same-old, same-old anymore.”
On Sept. 3, Kasich was back in the same neighborhood on the capital city’s south side, this time with representatives of other government offices and private businesses and organizations, to announce the beginning of renovations to transform the now-vacant elementary school into a center with a boys and girls club, day care, job training, educational programming, food assistance and other services.
It’s the approach Kasich said he’d like to see other communities take in connecting services to needy residents, helping them earn high school degrees and train to fill existing job openings.
“We’re going to help them to get their education, we’re going to help them to get trained, we’re going to love our kids and raise them and teach them and guide them and focus them and then we’re going to get them to work by giving the skills they need,” he said. “Integrating all of that is the answer.”
He added later, “For those that talk about welfare, for those that talk about poverty, we have the antidote right here … If we get the results I think we’re going to get, it becomes a model in my opinion for the country.”
It was governor’s latest appearance with Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman, a Democrat who has endorsed Kasich’s opponent, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, in the November general election.
But Kasich and Coleman have remained complimentary in public appearances, and the governor said that he would take the Columbus mayor on the road to tout the community center that was the focus of their joint appearance Sept. 3.
“You and I are going to take it across the country, and we’re going to get the darn Republicans and Democrats to see that we can be unified and together on lifting people and giving everybody a chance and a hope in our country,” Kasich said.
A spokeswoman for FitzGerald’s campaign criticized the Sept. 3 event.
Lauren Hitt said in a released statement, “Gov. Kasich’s decision to stage an event on Ohio’s south side just 60 days before the election after he spent the last three years passing policies that hurt the people living in that neighborhood is disgusting.”
Marc Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau Chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.