September 23, 2014

Medina
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Gubernatorial hopeful: Local governments getting squeezed

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald, Democratic candidate for governor, stopped by the Medina Gazette on Friday afternoon as part of an Ohio tour. (LOREN GENSON / GAZETTE)

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed Fitzgerald, Democratic candidate for governor, stopped by the Medina Gazette on Friday afternoon as part of an Ohio tour. (LOREN GENSON / GAZETTE)

Ohio gubernatorial hopeful Ed FitzGerald stopped by The Gazette on Friday during a tour of Ohio to talk about the impact state budget cuts have had towns and counties around the state.

“We’re highlighting the effect of the local government cuts … because local communities continue to struggle to make ends meet and the state has aggravated that situation,” he said.

FitzGerald pointed to research conducted by Policy Matters Ohio and Innovation Ohio that found $10.7 million in cuts to education across Medina County’s seven school districts since 2010 and $13.4 million in cuts to local government funds across all levels of Medina County government since Gov. John Kasich took office in 2010.

FitzGerald, who is the Cuyahoga County executive, previously served as mayor of Lakewood. He said cuts to local government funds place a heavier burden on local communities, forcing them to either cut services or ask residents for new tax dollars.

“I have a much different record than that,” FitzGerald said. “As a city official and a government official, I made government more efficient and I didn’t rely on taking money from other communities to balance my budget.”

On Tuesday, while speaking in Mansfield, Kasich said local officials need to learn to cut back or share services.

FitzGerald said Kasich’s comments are out of touch with the struggles facing local government leaders.

“For people who are working in local government, that kind of comment is insulting, because they’ve been making government more efficient for years and their government is more efficient than the state is,” he said.

FitzGerald also railed against Kasich’s spending at the state level while local communities continue to struggle.

The Associated Press has reported local government cuts over the last two budget cycles total more than $1 billion, but the state’s current two-year budget includes a 14.6 percent increase in spending.

“He’s presiding over the largest budget by far in the history of the state while they’re dealing with less money,” he said.

On the trail this fall, FitzGerald said he will continue to travel around the state and his supporters will be knocking on doors. He just released his first television ad on Thursday titled “Promise” and he said the campaign will start spending more money on television advertising.

According to April finance reports, FitzGerald has raised $2.8 million to Kasich’s $7.8 million in campaign donations.

“Our goal was to try and get through the summer months without having to spend too much money, because we knew we didn’t have as much” he said.

But FitzGerald cheered a poll conducted by his campaign that showed he trails Kasich by one percentage point despite Kasich’s name recognition and monetary advantage. He said he expects the next three months of the campaign to heat up as Kasich hits the campaign trail and FitzGerald starts spending the money he’s saved up.

“I think it’s going to be a very intense next 100 days,” she said.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com. Follow her on Twitter @lorengenson.