The Green Party’s gubernatorial candidate warmed up for a Cleveland debate tonight that Gov.
John Kasich won’t be joining by chastising the incumbent.
“I believe it is a sad commentary on the state of politics that Gov. Kasich has refused to
join us,” said Toledo labor leader Anita Rios, unemployed since she lost her job at an abortion
clinic forced to close under a bill Kasich signed last year.
“I believe this political system is very broken in this country, and in this state in
Rios said if she’s elected she will fire every public university president in the state
because they are making excessive salaries while students struggle to afford college.
“I was sad that Gordon Gee resigned as president of Ohio State because I would have wanted to
fire him,” she said.
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About 40 people were on hand hear Rios at the Downtown Athletic Club, about the same number who
showed up for Democratic hopeful Ed FitzGerald about two weeks ago in the Columbus Metropolitan
Club’s series featuring the three candidates for governor. Kasich’s turn is next week.
Rios and FitzGerald match up this evening at the City Club in Cleveland for a debate that was
to have included Kasich.
While accepting an unusual endorsement from organized labor earlier today, Kasich was asked
if he had any last-minute change of heart and planned to debate FitzGerald and Rios tonight.
“No,” Kasich said simply. Asked if Ohioans deserved to see a debate between the gubernatorial
candidates, he replied, “I’ve made all the comments I’m going to make about it.”
The Indiana-Kentucky-Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters endorsed Kasich in an event
including Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor at its West Side offices. Union officials said Kasich’s work to
create jobs and improve the state economy has put union carpenters back to work.
Kasich called the endorsement “a very big deal,” saying it was “not easy” for a labor union
to endorse a Republican governor. “This is a giant deal to me, personally.”
Jason Clark, the union’s Ohio political representative, said the endorsement was given to
Kasich on the merits of his work and was not a reflection of the perceived weakness of FitzGerald.
Any wounds from Kasich’s charge to limit the collective bargaining rights of public employee
unions through voter-rejected Senate Bill 5 have since healed, Clark said.
Major labor unions such as the Ohio AFL-CIO have stayed the course with FitzGerald and the
Democrats, although Troopers for a Safer Ohio withdrew its endorsement after the candidate’s
history of driver’s license woes was revealed.
During her noontime event, Rios said, “I don’t mind being the spoiler. I think there’s
strength in being the spoiler sometimes.”
She also staked out numerous positions, several of which appeared to underscore her desire to
stay out of the political mainstream:
- Doing all she can as governor to eliminate fracking, because it is “a dangerous venture.”
- Abolishing the death penalty.
- Granting clemency to the “Lucasville Five,” who led the nation’s longest prison riot 21 years
ago at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville.
- Moving to a single-payer health-care system, and break the link between having a job to have
health care. “Health care is something that all Ohioans should have from cradle to grave.” When
asked how she would pay for it, one of the things she said was “stop some of our endless war and
put that money in the system.”
- Legalizing marijuana and put drug dealers out of business by heavily taxing the production and
sale of the substance.
- Approving gay marriage, although that likely will take action by either the courts or Ohio
- Granting amnesty to undocumented workers.
- Harnessing the talents of gang members, many of whom display remarkable entrepreneurship.
- Employing only paper ballots for Ohio elections.
- Expanding abortion rights. “I know what it feels like to feel that abortion is your only choice
and not feel that there is an option there.”
Rios said she would plow half her salary as governor into internships for young people to
shadow her and her cabinet, and another fourth into paying for town-hall forums about community
priorities across the state.
She is one of eight children born to settled farm workers. Her father later got a job at
Toledo’s Jeep plant, which enabled her and several siblings to attend college.
Rios, a steward and contract negotiator with Service Employees International Union local 1099
when she was a mental health case manager, must get at least 2 percent of vote in this election for
the Green Party to maintain its legal status as an official minor party under Ohio law.
Dispatch reporter Randy Ludlow contributed to this story.