Ted Strickland: We Strengthened Ohio's Foundation
Governor Ted Strickland says he is leaving Ohio with a stronger foundation than it had when he came into office. Strickland Wednesday gave his farewell address at the Columbus Metropolitan Club, the same venue where he gave his first speech as a candidate for governor.
6 weeks removed from the narrow loss to John Kasich and with about three weeks left on the job Ted Strickland received a warm welcome from a friendly CMC crowd.
"It's wonderful how nice people are when you lose and election," the outgoing governor noted. The address was dubbed his farewell speech, but it contained many of the themes of his campaign. He blamed the state's troubles on the worst economic crisis since the great depression and said it was democrats like him whose policies prevented an economic calamity.
"I' m proud that we buckled down, met the critical needs of the people and strengthened the foundation of Ohio," said Strickland.
Strickland pointed to favorable business ratings for Ohio and several months of steady but very slow job growth. Not once did he criticize "Wall Street" .. but not once did he point out that Ohio lost nearly 400 thousand jobs during his time in office.
Strickland touted what he called his greatest achievements - His evidence based education reform package, and incentives which have grown Ohio's green energy industry. In particular he pointed to an advanced energy firm on Columbus's south-side.
"What they do is they take piles of manure and turn it into energy.. And after four years, I often wonder if they could bring their equipment to the statehouse," Strickland joked.
He said his administration strengthened Ohio's transportation system which has led to growth in the shipping and logistics industry. But he regrets he was not able to convince John Kasich to keep $400 million in federal funding to expand passenger rail service- calling it one of the saddest moments in his term.
"That rail money will help build the foundation of California and New York "
As for advice for his successor - he said John Kasich should hire smarter people than the governor-elect. For lawmakers who will face tough budget choices, and possible deep cuts in services he reminded them of his peace corps spirit.
"In this great nation we live amidst homeless and hunger. We must remember that struggle is not a vice and compassion is not a character flaw. "
As for his future plans, Strickland said little. Speculation has him getting a post in the Obama administration or possibly running for his old congressional seat. Strickland noted that one report had him becoming the US Ambassador to Switzerland - a job for which he joked he would have to learn to ski.