A former Bobcat has his sights set on the governor’s chair in Columbus.
State Sen. Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, announced his candidacy for governor of Ohio on March 1 in a news release. Schiavoni, a 2001 Ohio University graduate, has served as the minority leader of the Democratic Party in the state senate for the past three years.
Prior to his election as state senator in 2009, Schiavoni worked as a workers’ compensation lawyer. He said he is ready for the next challenge and will work to address problems such as school funding, the drug epidemic and the job market.
“I saw a lot of things the state government was doing that was not helping the everyday Ohioan,” he said. “As I travel the state, I see we’re not funding our schools properly. The job market is lagging so we should make investments in jobs. We have a lot of neighborhoods that desperately need investments from the state when it comes to … revitalization.”
Schiavoni has spent the past few weeks traveling around the state to listen to the stories of his current and potential constituents.
“Ohioans want somebody that they can trust,” he said. “I want to bring people’s voices to the statehouse. The most powerful tool is giving people the opportunity to come down and testify of what’s going on in their particular municipality to make legislators understand.”
Republicans have held the majority in Ohio for •seven consecutive years. Schiavoni, a Democrat, believes the two parties can work together to improve their constituents’ lives.
“It doesn’t have to be a political battle in the statehouse every day,” he said. “They want somebody who can go there and work as hard as they possibly can to improve the quality life of people.”
Schiavoni criticized Republican Gov. John Kasich’s allocation of funds and taxation system and said he would change the way those practices are done if he were to take office.
“Constantly, it seems the governor’s priority and the Republicans’ priority is to tax cut before making investments,” he said. “We have to invest in those areas before we say we’re going to do cuts, especially to the wealthy. … Every year I see there’s an income tax reduction but a sales tax increase.”
While attending a College Democrats convention in Toledo, Schiavoni said he met several students from Athens, including Sam Miller, the current president of OU College Democrats.
“Joe Schiavoni has always been on my radar since he is minority leader,” Miller, who serves on The Post‘s Publishing Board, said. “He has stood up for the working class and Appalachia. Getting the opportunity to meet him was really good.”
Nicholas Felt, a junior studying political science and recording industry, was among other OU College Democrats who met Schiavoni. As a previous intern of former State Sen. Lou Gentile, Felt said he knew about Schiavoni and his policies prior to meeting him.
“In my mind, he is the most qualified candidate,” Felt said. “He’s been a champion of the working class in Ohio, and he’s always worked to uphold values of Democrats in Ohio.”
Schiavoni affirmed he is the best choice for college students, citing his plan to make college more affordable and managing state debt.
“Dealing with affordability, dealing with debt and also dealing with the job market is important because a lot of graduates want to stay in Ohio, and we want to keep them in Ohio, so we need to incentivize that,” he said.
Schiavoni said he is grateful for support from his alma mater and college students.
“I love seeing young people excited about this,” he said. “We desperately need young people to be very active in this election. … Politicians need to embrace the ideas of college students and college graduates.”
Originally published for The Post on April 19, 2017.