Kiera Manion-Fischer and David Knox
Ohio Gov. John Kasich made an unpublicized stop in Medina County on Wednesday to share lunch with several dozen local Republican Party leaders, elected officials and business leaders.
Kevin Dunn, county party chairman, said the meeting was at Santosuossos restaurant, on state Route 18, just west of the Interstate 71 interchange in Medina Township, and lasted about 40 minutes.
“He came in and grabbed some pasta, kind of caught up with stuff,” Dunn said.
Sharon Ray, the party’s vice chairwoman, said between 40 and 50 people were invited.
While the Republican Party organized the luncheon — “I don’t think I called any Democrats” — Ray said the meeting wasn’t a political strategy session.
“There was no political discussion about campaigns or anything like that, said Ray, the GOP’s state central committeewoman for Senate District 22 and a former Medina County commissioner and Wadsworth city Council member. Ray is the community services director for Wadsworth Municipal Court.
Ray, along with several others interviewed by The Gazette, said Kasich answered questions on a wide variety of statewide issues.
“The governor was very encouraging of questions and comments about policies and where the state of Ohio is going,” she said.
In addition to talking about ways to encourage business expansion and job creation, Ray said Kasich responded to questions about “higher education and what some of the priorities ought to be in the future.”
Asked if there was any discussion on proposals specifically affecting Medina County, Ray said, “I’m not sure there was any issue that would have been germane only to Medina County.”
Rob Nichols, spokesman for the governor’s office, said Kasich asked for the meeting but local GOP leaders organized the event.
“He reached out to them initially and they set something up,” Nichols said, adding that Kasich has had similar impromptu meetings in other parts of the state.
Kasich attended the luncheon after stopping on his way to Cleveland’s Severance Hall to deliver a 3:30 p.m. speech at the annual meeting of the Mount Sinai Health Care Foundation.
Because the meeting involved the local Republican Party and was not a function of the governor’s office, there was no announcement of the event.
In addition to Ray and Dunn, also helping organize the luncheon was Jim Woods, the GOP state central committeeman for District 22 and founder of Medina County Friends and Neighbors, a local tea party group.
Woods said the luncheon was good idea.
“It’s always valuable when you can meet with the governor face to face and find out what he’s thinking and he can find out what we here in the grass roots are thinking,” Woods said.
County Recorder Colleen Swedyk, who is also Hinckley Township’s fiscal officer, said she welcomed the opportunity to question the governor at a comparatively small gathering.
“To be able to raise your hand and not be competing with 500 other people, it’s a very valuable opportunity,” Swedyk said.
Among those attending were Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell, Medina Municipal Court Clerk Nancy Abbott, Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier and Wadsworth Councilwoman Susan Hanlon.
The last time Kasich was in the county was when he gave a speech at the Republican Lincoln Day Dinner on March 25 at Williams on the Lake in Medina.