Cordray, DeWine talk drug crisis, ECOT scandal at first debate

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Republican Mike DeWine and Democrat Richard Cordray faced off Wednesday night for their first gubernatorial debate, taking jabs at each other’s record as Ohio attorney general.

Both candidates have served as Ohio AG and previously ran against each other for the position in 2010.

“You’ve been a failure at every job you’ve ever had,” said Ohio Attorney General DeWine during the debate.

“The fact that we would listen to you now on drug policy would be like asking for navigation advice from the captain of the Titanic,” said Cordray, who has most recently served as the first Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The candidates continually took jabs at the other on the state’s opioid crisis. Attorney General DeWine touted a 12-point plan, emphasizing educating kids and protecting drug courts.

“If you take away any penalty for that possession, there’s nothing holding over that person’s head,” he said.

Cordray said he would remain tough on traffickers and provide more funding for local governments and community treatment programs.

“They have to have someplace to be able to put people they pick up night after night other than just jail,” he said.

The two also took opposing stances on Issue 1 on the November ballot, which would eliminate jail time for low-level drug offenses. Cordray spoke in favor of the measure, and DeWine said he would vote ‘no.’

The candidates also took opposing viewpoints on legalizing recreational marijuana. Cordray said he wanted to put the issue up for a referendum, but DeWine said he remains against the idea.

Another topic of the debate – the ECOT scandal, in which the now-closed Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, a for-profit charter school, allegedly over-reported its student population and took in more taxpayer money. Each candidate accused the other of not doing enough as attorney general, but also discussed their differences in education policy regarding charter schools.

“What we would do is say that that company that is supplying that does not get paid, does not get their complete pay until there is evidence that that particular child has in fact learned what they were supposed to learn in that period of time,” DeWine said.

“What we need to do is flunk the failing charter schools in the state and get that money back for our public schools so we can strengthen the classroom,” Cordray said.

Regarding jobs and the economy, DeWine and Cordray each took shots at the other on jobs lost in the state during their tenures as AG, but each also discussed methods for creating jobs and strengthening the state’s workforce.

Two more debates remain. The next one is set for October 1 at Marietta College.

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