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Published: Monday, 1/13/2014

Kasich picks Medina for annual state address

BY JIM PROVANCE BLADE
COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS — Gov. John Kasich will continue his new tradition of taking his State of the State Address on the road, this time to northeast Ohio’s Medina.

Last year the governor delivered his annual report card in downtown Lima. The year before that it was in a Steubenville high school. Only once has he delivered the address in the traditional setting of the Statehouse.

“We look at a community that is not too big, one where we can be impactful in terms of letting them display themselves to the state,” the governor said. “We love it. Last year it was in Lima, the year before that it was in Steubenville. Medina seemed like a good place.

“We’re excited to go there and it’s Speaker [Bill] Batchelder’s home. It’s a nice tribute to him after all his years of service. It just felt right.”

The speech will also put the Republican governor practically in the suburban backyard of Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, who is vying for the governor’s job in this year’s election.

The governor has asked the General Assembly to again pass a resolution approving the change in location. The speech will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Medina Performing Arts Center adjacent to a local high school.

Most lawmakers and state officials made the trips to the opposite corners of the state to attend the traveling State of State Addresses over the last two years, but some have not. Tickets have been made available to members of the general assembly.

State Rep. Ron Gerberry (D., Canfield) has twice introduced a bill requiring that the State of the State be held at the Statehouse, but it has gone nowhere.

“I just think it’s very unfortunate that the governor doesn’t really appreciate the historical perspective of where the State of the State should be held,” he said. “Obviously, the leadership of both the Senate and the House are not going to deny the governor’s request.

“I don’t care if it’s a Democratic or a Republican governor — this is the sixth governor I’ve served under — this is wrong,” Mr. Gerberry said. “It’s disrespectful to the institution, even if it’s not intended to be disrespectful.”

Still, he said he’s missed just one State of the State Address during his lengthy legislative career, and he is likely to attend this one.

Politically, Medina should be friendly territory for Mr. Kasich. The county went decisively for Republican Mitt Romney in 2012 even as the state as a whole went to President Obama. Both House seats and the Senate seat representing the county are all held by Republicans.

Dennis Hanwell, recently elected to his second term as Medina’s nonpartisan mayor, said the city’s selection will give it a chance to show off to the state.

“We’ve had a number of companies expand in the city,” he said. “We’ve been having ribbon-cuttings generally weekly here, doing what we can with our own tax dollars to improve the industrial infrastructure.

“The governor sees those things,” Mr. Hanwell said. “There’s also been a great deal of collaboration between the city and surrounding townships. That’s exactly the type of government work, using tax dollars by supporting one another, that the governor has talked about.”

Staff writer Tyrel Linkhorn contributed to this report.

Contact Jim Provance at: jprovance@theblade.com or 614-221-0496.



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