MEDINA TWP. — Gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray told a group of about 50 Medina County Democrats on Saturday that his plan to reduce gun violence is “the strongest and most comprehensive” of any plan proposed.
It would include establishing universal background checks to keep guns away from criminals and the mentally ill, banning devices like bump stocks that enhance legal firearms, improving school security and working with local police.
However, when a retired teacher in the audience asked Cordray if he favored outlawing military-type weapons — like the one used to kill 17 people Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. — Cordray said no.
Cordray suggested it would be challenging enough to convince the Republican-dominated state Legislature to approve his gun-control proposal.
“The key is focus on what we can actually do, practically speaking, to reduce gun violence to save lives,” Cordray said. “That’s what we’re trying to focus on.”
A retired school administrator in the audience said some Ohioans seem convinced that Cordray is accepting campaign money from the National Rifle Association.
Cordray, who has expressed support for Second Amendment rights, said it’s a rumor, probably started by a rival campaign.
“I have never been funded by the NRA,” said Cordray, who said he accepts campaign money only from individuals, not corporations.
Cordray — a former Oho attorney general and treasurer, and more recently head of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — spoke and mingled at Buffalo Wild Wings, 5050 Eastpointe Drive, at about 3 p.m. Saturday. He had arrived from a Sandusky meet-and-greet earlier that day.
Other Democratic candidates for governor on the May 8 primary ballot include Larry E. Ealy, Dennis Kucinich, William O’Neill, Paul E. Ray and Joe Schiavoni. Republican gubernatorial candidates are Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and Attorney General Mike DeWine.
Cordray said he and his running mate, Betty Sutton, are running on “kitchen-table issues” — access to affordable health care, better education and job training, and economic development spread more evenly across the state — that worry Ohioans.
“As I go all over the state now, I do find people who feel left out and left behind, in many communities, small rural counties and large urban counties,” Cordray said. “We can do much better than that.”
Cordray said the crisis with opioid addiction, which can lead to fentanyl and heroin use, is on people’s minds.
“We had more fatalities last year than ever before — more than 5,000 people died in Ohio from the opioid crisis,” Cordray said. “And many others are disabled, unable to work, unable to care for their families or in prison. It’s something we have to get on top of, and the state government has neglected it for seven years.”
Cordray said the state also must address problems with charter schools. He mentioned Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, an online charter school, which closed earlier this year after months of financial struggles.
Cordray said ECOT never provided accurate attendance numbers or performance results and gave millions of dollars in campaign contributions to Republican officials to look the other way.
“It’s a disgrace that the public and parochial schools in this state have to meet standards and the charter school experiment has never had to meet the same standards,” Cordray said. “That’s inexcusable, it cannot go on and we will change that.”
Cordray criticized the existing state government for being “hostile” to local communities by cutting funds and chipping away at home rule.
“They keep telling local governments, ‘Tighten your belt, tighten your belt,’” Cordray said. “But the state doesn’t tighten their belt. They reach in (local governments’) pockets and take their money, and it makes them (the state) look good.
“It balances the books at the state level, it gives them money to give back in tax cuts … usually to people who need it the least; and down at the local level, they say you have to go to the ballot (for taxes) to make up the difference. And it’s wrong, and it needs to be stopped.”
An audience member asked Cordray his opinion about the 255-mile NEXUS natural-gas pipeline that will run from Columbiana County through Medina and Lorain counties to a hub in Canada. Residents in Medina County concerned about how the pipeline will affect their health and the environment unsuccessfully have tried to stop it.
Cordray said he supports clean, renewable energy. He said the state established aggressive renewable energy goals under former Gov. Ted Strickland. But under Gov. John Kasich, Ohio has fallen behind other Midwestern states.
The audience member pressed, asking Cordray if he would support pipelines like NEXUS.
Cordray said it’s a “difficult issue” because the federal government has jurisdiction and federal laws must be followed.
“The best that we can do is to make sure that whatever is being done, whether or not the choice is made at the federal level, that we need to protect Ohioans and protect our environment,” Cordray said.
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