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Heroin epidemic a health emergency

Joe Centers • Jun 11, 2014 at 10:04 AM

A heroin epidemic should be handled as a public health emergency, Democratic candidate for governor Ed FitzGerald told a group of local Democrats at a fundraiser Monday.

Due to the danger of the drug, cases of heroin dealing should be treated as attempted homicides and “if you’re a heroin dealer you should go to prison. Period,” said FitzGerald, Cuyahoga County’s executive.

FitzGerald said he’s had his county’s medical examiner personally call him each time there’s a heroin-related death.

The problem with Gov. John Kasich’s administration is it has cut about $20 million statewide in resources that could’ve been used to address the heroin problem, he said. Huron County likely lost out on some of that money, said Kasich’s opponent in November.

FitzGerald accused Kasich, a Republican, of cutting taxes for millionaires while raising taxes for the poorest of Ohio’s residents. In general, the gap between the country’s richest and the poorest is the widest since the 1920s, FitzGerald said.

“We’re getting further and further and further apart,” he said. “We are at risk of completely becoming a ‘have and have not’ economy.”

Kasich is “working hard for that very small group of people and the rest of you are going to be left behind,” FitzGerald said.

While FitzGerald didn’t accuse Kasich of causing all the world’s problems, he said Ohio has never had a state government “as extreme, as radical, as out of touch as this one is.”

Under Kasich, if you own a business and it closes, “good luck,” FitzGerald said. “You better hope that the right person is connected to the right person. The state’s being run for the benefit of a very few people.”

FitzGerald said state government has actually increased with Kasich as governor, but tax cuts have gone to the wealthiest of Ohioans. The Democratic challenger said the theory that money belonging to the rich will eventually make its way to the poor never worked and never will.

FitzGerald said he’s in favor of increasing the state’s minimum wage by $10.10. He added the current minimum wage doesn’t pay for what it used to pay for.

FitzGerald didn’t specifically cite Kasich’s views on the issue.

“He’s going to say as little as possible between now and November,” FitzGerald said.

He said Kasich has referred to the Buckeye State’s economy as the “Ohio Miracle.” With half of the state’s residents living paycheck to paycheck, “you don’t describe the economy as a miracle.”

FitzGerald said he wouldn’t describe Ohio as a business-friendly state.

“No, not at all. And (Kasich’s) making it worse.”

FitzGerald said he’s the better candidate because of his experience in reforming government at the city and county level as well as his law enforcement experience.

“In 2010, following one of the largest public corruption scandals in the history of Ohio, Ed was elected to lead a new county government,” campaign officials wrote on his website at www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com. “As County Executive, Ed reduced government waste by tens of millions of dollars and used those savings to create four times more jobs than his predecessor and the nation’s largest college affordability program. While balancing the budget every year, Ed also expanded the county’s pre-kindergarten program, and “restored people’s trust in Cuyahoga County,” putting in place some of the toughest ethics laws in Ohio.”

Huron County Democratic Party Chairwoman Sue Lesch encouraged those present to spread the word about FitzGerald.

“This guy has a record of being a problem fixer,” she said

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