I See an Ohio Where These Dreams Are Worth Having
June 28, 2017
When Becky died, Fran and I were reminded that life is short—that our time here on earth is finite—and that we must make the most of every moment. I will not waste a day.
Aren’t I lucky?!!
My mother always used to tell me, “Michael, you are so lucky to have married Frances.” I would tell her it wasn’t luck—but it was!
I’m not sure what possessed me as a 6th Grader to go to Fran’s house with that box of chocolate and that necklace, but I’m sure glad I did! I knew even then that there was something very, very special about Frances Struewing!
I want to thank our granddaughter Caroline for singing! We are very proud of you, and we are very proud of all of our children and grandkids.
It is great to have so many of our children, grandkids, and Fran’s mom here with us on this very special occasion. Fran and I have always been amazed at the diversity of interests and passions among our children. We have Pat, a judge; Jill, a stay-at-home mom; John, a farmer; Brian, a baseball team president; Alice, a prosecutor; Mark, a teacher; and Anna, a journalist. Their spouses share equally diverse interests, and we are beginning to see that, too, in our grandkids.
So many people have been asking me, when are you going to announce that you are running for Governor? Well, as the Bible says, there is a time and a place for everything—and so with our family and our friends, in the county where Fran and I grew up and where have we raised our children, I announce that—YES! I am a candidate for Governor of the Great State of Ohio!
When John Kennedy ran for President, he said that the job of the President was to lay before the American people the unfinished business of the country.
I believe that is also the job of the candidate for Governor.
And so, we begin that job today.
Our country was built on the idea that anyone who worked hard enough could succeed. My great-great grandparents came here to Greene County in the 1840’s from Ireland to escape the Potato Famine. They were poor and probably illiterate. They struggled, and they sacrificed—all so that their children would have a better life and a chance to achieve the American Dream.
What we should want for all the children in the State of Ohio is what Fran and I want for our own children and grandchildren—and that is that they live up to their God-given potential—that they find work that is meaningful and for which they have a true passion—and that they have that opportunity to live their own American Dream.
The tragedy of our state today is that far too many Ohioans will never realize their dreams because they simply lack the education, the skills, the training—and, in too many cases, the sobriety.
Though we are a diverse state, with different backgrounds and opinions about so many things, one thing we all can agree on is this: Our shared goal must be to give every child growing up in this state—no matter where they live and no matter who their parents are—the chance to dream, the chance to succeed, and the chance to live up to their own God-given potential.
Ohio is a great state, but we have some very significant problems. Too many children are growing up in dysfunctional or stressed families, and because of that, they are simply not getting the chances to succeed that they deserve. And, their vision of the future—and the vision of the future for far too many Ohio adults—is obscured and narrowed by the walls of poverty, drugs, and despair.
And, make no mistake about it—when these kids fail—Ohio fails.
We usually think of these kids as living in Appalachia or in the inner cities, but the truth is they live in every single county in Ohio. And, even though there are so many great and dedicated teachers across this state—and great schools—we still have schools that are failing many of these children.
What a tragedy that is—to know what works, to have schools that work—and yet we still have kids going to schools in Ohio that are broken—that just don’t function—and that don’t give these kids the tools they need to succeed in life.
Yet, there IS hope! There are schools in Ohio doing some amazing things—creative things with strong teachers and great principals—and they are, in fact, changing lives!
What if every child in Ohio was enrolled in one of those schools? What if every one of our schools in Ohio worked and worked well? Our state would be fundamentally different.
When I am Governor, our state WILL be fundamentally different, because each day, I will focus on this like a laser and will do everything in my power to make sure that all children in Ohio attend schools of excellence!
I will use the power of the bully pulpit of the Governor’s Office to champion schools that work and hold them up as examples that could be replicated in communities all across the state.
Our son Mark and his wife Becca teach in two schools in inner-city Cleveland that are making a real difference. Their schools and other schools like theirs across our state teach students critical thinking skills and spark in them a constant curiosity for learning.
Further, these schools operate from a core belief—a culture—that every student can learn and that every student can achieve at a high level.
We also want kids to understand what opportunities are out there. We must do a better job showing our kids all the options—to see all the different things they can do in the future—to see all the different things they can do to find fulfilment in a job, whether they want to study medicine or engineering or diesel mechanics, culinary arts, welding, and on and on.
We should not burden them with only one path to success, but open all avenues, by helping them marry natural skills, talents, and passions with real jobs and real careers.
That’s the way Ohio should be working in the 21st Century!
And now, we look at another enemy of our children’s future.
At 18, when Felicia Detty visited the emergency room for a severe toothache, she hadn’t planned on getting addicted to prescription pain pills or later to heroin. As her mother said, Felicia didn’t grow up saying to herself, “I want to be an addict.”
In September 2015, Felicia Detty died from a heroin overdose.
Tragically, Felicia’s story is one of too many occurring in Ohio daily. The face of opiate addiction has become the face of Ohio.
Heroin and synthetic opiates are killing at least 10 Ohioans every single day.
It cuts across all demographics.
And, no community in Ohio is safe.
We simply cannot sit by as we lose a generation of children to addiction!
When I am Governor, we will get in front of this epidemic!
We will teach our kids in every single school in the state of Ohio—in Kindergarten through 12th grade—the skills they need to make good decisions.
We will teach them consistently and repeatedly and in an age-appropriate way about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.
And, we will replicate the great work that is going on in so many communities all across Ohio. Every community must have a grassroots effort to fight back against the opiate epidemic. And, we know that to be successful, these efforts must include law enforcement, local officials, schools, business leaders, community members, and they must include our churches and faith-based community.
One of Ohio’s mothers recently shared something with me about her son, who now has four years and seven months of sobriety from heroin addiction. She said this: “He is my reason for believing that life—every life—has value.” We have an obligation to rescue Ohio’s sons and daughters who suffer from the disease of addiction and whose purpose in life has been interrupted—interrupted by opiates, alcohol, and other drugs.
Their pain is real. Their suffering is unimaginable.
It’s time to care for every brother, sister, parent, and child who lives with this burden and restore hope to individuals, to families, to communities—and to the State of Ohio.
In the 1920’s, my grandparents opened a small feed store in downtown Yellow Springs. When Dad came back from World War II, he rejoined the business, and over time, it grew into a seed company, selling to famers’ elevators in four states and also selling seed nationally and internationally.
I worked in the mill, as we called it then, from the time I was about 12 years-old until I finished law school, and Fran, for a good part of that time, worked in the office.
My parents and grandparents taught me that family always comes first. And, they taught me the value of hard work, the importance of keeping my word, and how to treat people.
When I think about the business my family built and the life-long lessons they taught me, I am reminded of Ohio’s amazing history, whose inventors, entrepreneurs, and dreamers led the world in innovation and change throughout the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. The dreams, the visions, the imagination, and the courage that we need to face the next decade can be found in our state’s long history and the people who built our state.
As we stand here today in Cedarville Township—less than 20 miles from the Huffman Prairie where the Wright Brothers perfected the art of flying and changed the course of history—I know that Ohio still—still has that same entrepreneurial spirit and unstoppable drive that can change the world!
Ohio can thrive economically again if we fully utilize all of our natural and man-made assets. We have abundant water. We have the jewel that is Lake Erie. We have plentiful natural gas. We have a strong infrastructure system. And, we are in the center of America’s agricultural and industrial heartland.
We grow things.
We make things.
And, we know how to sell things!
I promise you this—when I am Governor of Ohio, no one will be a stronger advocate for our great State of Ohio than Mike DeWine!
THAT is the job of the Governor!
I believe in tax relief, not tax increases. We need to keep taxes low; make our tax system simple, fair, and predictable; and encourage individuals and businesses to invest in Ohio. And, we need to control spending—just as every Ohio family must control their own spending.
We have the chance to do this right.
We have the chance to make the State of Ohio—the State of Opportunity!
Missing from the stage today is our daughter Becky.
Becky was killed on August 4, 1993. She was just 22 years-old.
Becky was a wonderful, beautiful, caring, and loving person, and we know she would have done amazing things with her life. We think about her every single day and about what she would be doing now.
No parent is ever the same after the death of a child. A friend of mine called me shortly after Becky died. He had lost his son, who was about Becky’s age. He told me that you lose tolerance for things that really don’t matter, and it focuses you on the things that do matter. You sort it out pretty quickly.
When Becky died, Fran and I were reminded that life is short—that our time here on earth is finite—and that we must make the most of every moment.
And, that’s what I have tried to do in my time in public service—to not waste time and to spend it wisely on things that truly matter and on things where I know I can make a real and lasting difference.
My promise to you is that as Governor of Ohio, I will not waste a day.
I will remember that time is precious and finite.
And, when I walk in to the Governor’s office—I will be ready to go on Day One! I will walk through that door with a plan, and I will be ready to get to work!
As Governor I will not be afraid to call it like I see it—and I will! I will make the tough decisions. And, I will lead!
I’m sick and tired of seeing families devastated and children orphaned, because of the horrific drug epidemic. I will lead in this crisis!
And as Governor, I will strive to give every Ohioan the opportunity to live the American Dream! No dream should ever be denied because our people were under-educated, suffering from addiction, or without a good job at a good wage.
My dad died in the fall of 2008 after a three-year battle against pancreatic cancer. One of the last things he did before he died was have our son, John, order several bushels of daffodil bulbs that our grandchildren helped plant. Dad likely knew he wouldn’t be around to see those flowers bloom in the spring, yet he still looked to the future.
The same should be true for all of us.
And so, we look to the future as we begin our journey—a journey focused specifically on things that we must change if all of Ohio’s children are going to have the opportunity to live the American Dream.
I ask you today to join me. Join me on this journey, because I see an Ohio where these dreams are worth having—and where these dreams are worth acting on and sacrificing for.
I can see an Ohio where we have the best schools in the nation and every child in this state is educated!
I can see an Ohio where our economy is the envy of every other state in the union—where jobs are plentiful and people from all over the country move here, start their businesses here, and raise their families here. And people say Ohio—that’s the place to go for opportunity.
I can see an Ohio where people feel safe and secure—where our streets are free from drugs and violence and our families are free from addiction.
I can see an Ohio where infant mortality is the lowest in the nation!
I can see an Ohio where our abundant natural resources power our state and free us from energy dependence!
And I can see an Ohio where everyone has the chance to live their own American Dream!
It is that vision—and the realization of that vision—that should drive each and every one of us, and it is what will drive me every single day as Governor!
I have faith in Ohio’s future. When I look at the seal of our great state, I see a rising sun. And that rising sun represents hope—hope for a future of unlimited possibilities!
I know that our best days are ahead of us and that together—together, we will change Ohio’s future!