SIDNEY — A candidate seeking the Democratic nomination in the May 2018 election to be her candidate’s choice to run for Ohio governor continued here whistle stop tour of Ohio when she visited six counties Saturday.
Connie Pillich, 56, of Cincinnati, who has a goal of visiting all 88 counties by the end of the year, marked six counties off her list as she visited Shelby, Allen, Mercer, Darke, Preble and Van Wert counties.
“I have an 88 county strategy,” said Pillich, who met with members of the Sidney American Legion during her visit to Sidney. “I’ve visited 68 counties so far.”
Pillich said by visiting all 88 counties she will learn what qualifications residents are seeking in Ohio’s next governor.
“There are large sections of the state that have been forgotten,” said Pillich.
Pillich is taking what she learned growing up and what the U.S. Air Force taught her as she campaigns throughout the state.
“I grew up in the shadow of a big steel mill,” said Pillich. “I saw the devastation when industries collapse. That scenario has played out across the state. Towns have been left behind. I want to put a different future out there for our state.”
She began her military career by serving four years in ROTC. She was in the Air Force for eight years.
“During my formative years, I was in live action in the Air Force,” said Pillich. “That was the best leadership training I could receive. I was working with all types of people.
“The Air Force taught me the right way to do things and to be mission focused,” she said. “I think I’m more flexible because I worked with people of different backgrounds in the Air Force.
“I also think my military leadership makes me more bold to buck the system,” she said.
While in the military, Pillich earned her MBA, served in Berlin at the height of the cold war and also supported Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. She and her husband, Paul Forshey, moved to Cincinnati after she left the military and she earned her law degree.
After working as a public defender, Pillich started her own lawn firm.
“I was living the dream,” said Pillich.
But the focus of her dream changed when scandals began hitting Ohio’s government.
“We had 10 years of state scandals,” she said. “I decided to run for state representative (28th District). For 38 of the past 40 years (before she ran), the voters had elected Republicans. I kept the office for three terms.”
She said she was focused on the issues the voters in her district was concerned about such as education.
“But the biggest thing I heard was ‘can’t we all just get along?’” she said. And that sentiment is still being heard as she campaigns today.
As state representative, Pillich introduced bipartisan legislation to connect veterans to their benefits, helped military families meet the financial challenges of military transfers and helped veterans and their families get back to work.
“Four years from now, I hope to be standing here talking to you about the things we’ve accomplished in the state,” said Pillich.
The top item on her agenda, if elected governor, deals with education.
“Our education system, which had been built up over the years to fifth in the nation has fallen to 27th,” said Pillich. “I want pre-k to be there for every kid. I ant to help make our teachers stronger with mentrrship. I want to see skilled apprenticeships across the state and make college affordable or debt free for all students.
“We need to find a funding formula for education in the state,” she said.
Her second “must do” on her list includes job revitalization in Ohio. Rebuilding current industries and bringing new industry to the state is vital for Ohio’s youth to remain in the state after they graduate from high school or college.
And adding a public option to health insurance is also Pillich’s goal.
“There are creative gems and we can replicate them,” she said. In Cincinnati, she said, there’s a Community Learning Center in every public school.
“We are bringing the service into the school for the children and their parents,” said Pillich. “The first step was to have a pediatrician in the school and we have nurses and county services available also.
“Parents with preschool children can bring their child to the school to visit the pediatrician. Students at the school can see the pediatrician. Everyone knows where the elementary school is,” she said.
The schools, she said, offer breakfast to the students and also send food home with them on the weekends.
Pillich announced her candidacy for governor on Jan. 21 as part of the Cincinnati Women’s March. Other Democrats seeking the nomination include former U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, Sen. Joe Schiavoni and former Wayne County Commissioner Dave Kiefer.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.