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Published: Friday, 7/16/2010

Strickland to portray Maumee as Main Street

BY JIM PROVANCE
BLADE COLUMBUS BUREAU CHIEF

COLUMBUS - The campaign for Ohio's governor's mansion will come to a quiet residential street in Maumee on Friday as part of Gov. Ted Strickland's tour to contrast his record with that of his Republican opponent.

"I'll have to mow the lawn," said Jeffrey Bunck, of 7129 Heathwyck Rd. He and his wife, Laraine, both recently retired public school teachers, will host about 40 people over cheese, crackers, and croissants as the Democratic governor makes his case for re-election.

Loyal Democrats in a neighborhood that has split its vote between parties in past elections, the Buncks were asked by the local party to host the gathering as part of a "Main Street" tour.

After Maumee, Mr. Strickland will head to Lima and the Dayton suburb of Huber Heights. The tour took him to southern Ohio on Wednesday and will continue next week in the Cleveland area.

The "Main Street" reference is designed to contrast with John Kasich's "Wall Street" background. The Republican former congressman from the Columbus suburbs worked as a regional manager for investment giant Lehman Brothers before its collapse in 2008.

"This is another opportunity for [Mr. Strickland] to be out talking about his record fighting for the people of Ohio and to contrast his record with John Kasich's on Wall Street in which he fought for policies that benefit very wealthy people and big corporations at the expense of Ohioans," Strickland campaign spokesman Allison Kolodziej said.

For Mr. Bunck, who taught government at Anthony Wayne High School, it's a chance to welcome government into his living room.

"I've met the governor before," he said. "I visited his house in Columbus after the election, and I've taken students into his office on several occasions to meet with him.

"It is special to have a governor in your living room," Mr. Bunck said. "There are only 50 of them."

He said the guest list will include people he and his wife know from their schools as well as voting-age students. They were not prescreened to ensure they were pro-Strickland, he said.

"Thanks to Ted Strickland's failed policies, Strickland will get to see firsthand that Main Street suffers from boarded-up businesses and too many Ohioans without jobs," Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said. "If he thinks he's going to trot around the state and brag about his accomplishments, it will be a short tour, and he'll be back home in time for lunch."

Mr. Kasich is expected to focus on northwest Ohio next week, visiting towns such as Port Clinton, Walbridge, Norwalk, and Huron. He'll be in Toledo on Wednesday.

During today's meeting with Mr. Strickland, Mr. Bunck plans to personally voice his concern for the viability of the state's public pension funds, including that for teachers. A vote on public pension reform legislation isn't expected until after the Nov. 2 election.

"It's the only thing I plan to ask him about, maintaining their solvency and honoring the agreement that the people have had with the retirement funds," he said. "They've talked about changing things down the road, possibly extending the number of years for teachers [to work] to get a certain percentage of benefits."

Contact Jim Provance at:

jprovance@theblade.com

or 614-221-0496.



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