Thompson endorses Taylor for Ohio gubernatorial race

Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, R-Green, right, speaks to Republicans Monday at the Betsey Mills Club in Marietta. Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, left, announced his endorsement of Taylor during the event. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

MARIETTA — Ohio Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, announced his endorsement of Republican gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor Monday before Taylor fielded questions and listened to residents’ concerns about education, the opioid epidemic and energy in Marietta.

“She’s the most conservative of the GOP candidates and I think she has the skills but also the understanding of how government works to truly lead this state,” said Thompson. “It’s not a one-way conversation with her, she talks with you and hears your suggestions and has answers.”

Taylor said she is running not as a “third term” continuance in policy for her colleague Gov. John Kasich, but because she wants to “challenge the status quo.”

“Our next governor has to have the energy, the vision and the drive to get things done and keep challenging until things make sense,” she told a group of Republicans gathered at the Betsey Mills Club Monday. “I win tough races and I get crossover voters.”

Taylor said she differs from Kasich in her stance against increasing the severance tax for oil and natural gas production, which has yet to pass the Ohio General Assembly.

“You’re not going to see a tax overhaul plan when I’m governor, but a massive reform in the Department of Taxation. They need to do a better job understanding who their customers are,” Taylor told the crowd.

Privately she also expressed her rage for how opioids have ravaged Ohio families and shared how the crisis is personal.

“With both my boys in recovery now we have as a family been in the depth of this,” Taylor said. “I know addiction is a brain disease and it needs to be recognized and we need a comprehensive plan that includes treatment. I don’t believe state government is the solution but can be a part of the solution and play a big part in law enforcement tracking the drugs and hitting the drug cartels where their business is. We hope the word is going out that Ohio is a hard place to ship and deal drugs.”

But with the group she also heard the concerns of those like Mike Webber, who is on the board of the Washington County Children Services.

“We are devastated with all of the foster kids, it’s the ones that are severely disabled, we’re paying up to $350 per day for their treatment from the children of the drug users,” said Webber. “You have one parent (using) and they’ve got this entire family that’s devastated.”

Taylor asked for suggestions about how to tackle the overwhelming needs of children services and Webber noted a need for managed care supported by the state.

“It’s what can we do as a state in getting and maintaining mental health care workers who will work not just with the addicts but will do a superior job with these kids,” he said.

Taylor also touched on the importance of home rule and allowing for localities to define the needs of their education system while still holding all school curriculum accountable to standards.

“But I think we’ve lost our minds with testing,” she said. “Let’s have an open dialogue and define what’s really necessary and that includes a discussion at the college level. Does every university have to be all things to all people?”

But she also noted that vocational, health and technical learning should be stressed on equal footing with college education.

“Yes, Ohio is on par with the national statistic that 60 percent of our workers will need to be college educated but just as important are the manufacturing, are the health care and the vocations. Let’s get these kids who want an immediate career ready to work without an extra two years,” she said. “Let communities define their needs and fill them.”