Republican Mike DeWine will be sworn in as the new governor of Ohio on Monday. Here are three ways he can help Greater Cincinnati:
1. Take care of us.
It seems like such a simple question. Of course, the Ohio governor will be paying attention to the state’s third largest city, home to Fortune 500 giants Kroger and Procter & Gamble, right?
However, business and community leaders have often felt the cold shoulder of outgoing Governor John Kasich, a central Ohioan whom some have jokingly referred to as the “Governor of Columbus.”
Kasich did very little for Greater Cincinnati. He didn’t have many close ties here, apart from a handful of major campaign donors. When was the last time Kasich appeared in public in his role as governor in Cincinnati? Even his Cincinnati-based regional director has rarely been seen by top Hamilton County’s top stakeholders in recent years.
It’s not that Kasich is the only governor who treats Cincinnati like we’re on our own little island down here. Heck, no one seems to remember what – if anything – Cincinnati’s own Bob Taft did for his hometown when he was governor from 1999 to 2007.
But many believe DeWine will be a lot kinder to Cincinnati.
Hailing from nearby Cedarville, he has known some of Cincinnati’s top political and business leaders for decades. His son, Pat DeWine, Ohio Supreme Court Justice, is a former Cincinnati City Councilor and Commissioner of Hamilton County. The older DeWine has grandchildren here. He is a long-time Reds and Bengals season ticket holder.
DeWine’s arrival at the Reef Center has given Greater Cincinnati leaders optimism that southwest Ohio will have a stronger voice in Columbus. DeWine could do this by calling more Cincinnatians to powerful statewide bodies.
“I’ve known Mike DeWine since 1988 and, among other things, I’ve seen him take advice from people he knows and considers to be experts in their fields,” said Doug Moormann, a Cincinnati economic development consultant who works for DeWine and DeWine Taft worked.
Commenting on DeWine, Moormann said, “I am confident that his longstanding personal relationships with some of Cincinnati’s business and community leaders will provide the region with regular opportunities to make important contributions and go into administration.”
More: 7 Ways Mike DeWine Will Be Different From John Kasich
2. Speed up the Western Hills Viaduct.
DeWine has the ability to expedite construction of a new viaduct in the same way that Kasich expedited the Interstate 71 MLK transportation hub.
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, OKI, and company executives made sharing a priority, and Kasich delivered a project that had been on the drawing board for years.
Those in charge of the region now consider replacing the crumbling 87-year-old viaduct to be Cincinnati’s top priority for local infrastructure. The $ 335 million project will require a large state investment.
Columbus has only grossed $ 10 million so far. This is a good time for the local leaders to unite and lobby the new governor for a new two-story bridge. It’s a simple message: no other major bridge in Ohio is in worse shape.
3. Work with Northern Kentucky and Governor Bevin on the Brent Spence Bridge.
Kasich never understood that Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky were part of one region. He drove a wedge here by courting Nielsen and Ominicare from Covington to Cincinnati. Kasich also criticized northern Kentucky political leaders for their inaction on the Brent Spence Bridge and for deltas cuts at CVG.
All of this overshadowed Kasich’s close collaboration with then-Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear on the bridge. Both advocated tolling a new bridge, but northern Kentucky state lawmakers were never on board.
Kasich then gave up on the project after Beshear was discontinued in late 2015. The anti-Trump Republican from Ohio never developed a relationship with Beshear’s Trump-loving successor, Matt Bevin.
DeWine has said the bridge is a priority. He could spend this year learning about the project and building relationships in Kentucky in preparation for Bevin’s re-election or assumption of a new governor in 2020.
Rest assured, DeWine is not going to preach to Kentucky leaders what he thinks is best for their state – and that will be a welcome change from the Ohio governor.
Listen to Enquirer’s political columnist Jason Williams’ weekly podcast, That’s So Cincinnati. Twitter: @jwilliamscincy. Email: [email protected]