Republican Mike DeWine and Democrat Richard Cordray, the two major-party candidates for Ohio governor, fielded questions from students and young adults on Thursday about jobs and education.
Cordray said he’d support universal pre-K and raising the minimum wage. One student asked how he’d improve the economy in Erie County.
“Investing in small businesses in the state,” Cordray said, speaking more broadly about his economic plans. “Firing up our infrastructure and rebuilding our roads and bridges, providing access to broadband. Stepping into our future with clean energy jobs, and trying to see that those are spread around the state.”
Both he and DeWine said they saw career tech schools as an important way for young people to find jobs. They also both decried the amount of testing in Ohio schools.
Asked about unpaid internships, Cordray acknowledged they can be difficult to afford, but said they’re worth considering.
“Different mixes of experience for different people at different times,” he said. “Sometime you can handle an unpaid internship for a short period of time, but you can learn a lot. It’s worth thinking about.”
DeWine said the state should expand eligibility for publicly funded early education programs, to help students and young people who are working parents.
One questioner asked DeWine how the state would improve preschool.
“What we’re going to do is help train and give support to the teachers who are in those schools, and do everything that we can to raise the quality of those schools,” DeWine said.
Asked about raising the minimum wage, DeWine said he’s “open to taking a look at” whether the question should go to voters.
“But what we don’t want to do is we don’t want to cause people to lose jobs,” he said. “We don’t want that starting job not to be out there.”
DeWine and Cordray spoke separately at the Idea Center in Cleveland. The forum, Talking Jobs with Ohio’s Next Governor, was produced by WOSU along with ideastream in Cleveland and CET in Cincinnati. The event was part of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s American Graduate inititiative.
The two candidates will take questions again in Cleveland on Monday, when they meet for their third debate.