TROY — With a plan in place to visit all 88 counties of Ohio as part of her gubernatorial campaign, Miami County was the first stop for Nan Whaley, who is the mayor of Dayton and a Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
On Thursday, Whaley held a meet and greet with community activists and labor members at the UAW Hall in Troy as part of her campaign’s Ohio Deserves Better tour, highlighting her support for a $15 minimum wage, expanding preschool and tackling corruption at the statehouse.
“My message to Ohio is this: I want your pay to go up, your bills to go down and your government to actually work for you,” Whaley said. “What does that really mean? It means we’re going to raise wages, starting with raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, but we’re not stopping there. It means raising everyone’s wages so that one good job is all you need to provide for your family.”
Whaley, who was first elected the mayor of Dayton in 2013, spoke about wanting to expand access to preschool for all Ohioans, like what is available in Dayton.
“In 2016, Dayton voters approved our plan to fund access to high-quality preschool for every 4 year old in our city and invest in teacher training, as well,” Whaley said. “In just a few short years, we’ve already seen significant improvement in our students and, just as importantly, we know we’ve given families far greater economic opportunity.”
Whaley touched on other successes Dayton has had, including cutting the number of accidental overdose deaths in half.
“I often say I want Dayton to be known as the place that figured out to treat addiction like the disease that it is,” Whaley said, recounting the combined efforts of government agencies, non-profits and community leaders to help address the opioid epidemic.
Whaley also commented on revitalization efforts in Dayton.
“We’ve seen billions of dollars of new investment, we restored city services, even during tough economic times. Our downtown neighborhoods are becoming vibrant again as new businesses and people move in,” Whaley said. “We did this all by bringing folks together, even those we don’t always agree with.
“But through it all, we haven’t had a partner in Columbus. We haven’t had a state government that wants to help Dayton succeed,” Whaley said. “On a good day, they ignore our communities. On a bad day, they actively try to undermine us.”
In regard to lowering Ohioans’ bills, Whaley spoke about removing the “corruption tax” on electric bills. Whaley referenced last year’s $60 million bribery scandal, which she said Ohioans are still paying for on their electric bills, regardless of their provider.
Last year, Larry Householder, former speaker of the Ohio House, and four associates were arrested in July in a $60 million federal bribery case connected to a taxpayer-funded bailout of Ohio’s two nuclear power plants, owned by electric utility company FirstEnergy.
Householder was one of the driving forces behind the nuclear plants’ financial rescue, which added a new fee to every electricity bill in the state and directed more than $150 million a year through 2026 to the plants near Cleveland and Toledo.
“And how are they going to pay for this bailout? By tacking on a new fee to every single person’s electric bill, every single month, even like you and me, we don’t get our electricity from FirstEnergy. It’s literally a corruption tax,” Whaley said.
“All of the Columbus insiders were complicit in this scandal, especially (Gov.) Mike DeWine,” Whaley said. “He got FirstEnergy to fund a super PAC for himself, and then he got them to fund a super PAC for his daughter.”
Whaley said DeWine “filled his administration” with FirstEnergy lobbyists.
“It’s been over a year since we found out about all of this corruption. The Republicans still have not fully repealed the law. You’re still paying to bail out energy companies every single month,” Whaley said.
Whaley also criticized DeWine’s response during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying, “Once the politics got too hard for DeWine, he caved.”
She noted Dayton was the first city in Ohio to issue a mask ordinance “because he (DeWine) refused to, even though he knew it would keep people safe before the vaccine got here.”
Whaley also talked about the Aug. 4, 2019, mass shooting that took place in Dayton’s Oregon District, when 24-year-old Connor Betts shot and killed nine people and injured 17 others near the entrance of the Ned Peppers Bar.
“Aug. 4, 2019, was one of the hardest days of my life,” said Whaley, who had described waking up to Dayton’s city attorney knocking on her door to tell her there had been a mass shooting.
She also described the resiliency she saw at that scene the next morning, saying, “In those faces I saw terrible sorrow, but I also saw incredible resolve.”
“The massacre that has happened in Dayton and has happened in too many other communities around the country demands a response,” Whaley said. “I spent months speaking to anyone who would listen about common sense steps we could (do) to keep guns out of the hands of people who wish to harm others. I ran myself and my staff ragged in order to do something.”
Whaley criticized DeWine’s response to the mass shooting, saying, “He said the right things because it was politically convenient. He made a commitment that he knew he wasn’t strong enough to keep. Nine dead people in Dayton simply wasn’t worth the political risk.”
Whaley also criticized the state’s “stand your ground” law, saying it will make the state more unsafe. The new law states, “a person has no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense, defense of another or defense of that person’s residence.”
More information about Whaley’s campaign is available at www.NanWhaley.com, on Twitter at @nanwhaley, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mayornanwhaley and on Instagram @nanwhaley.