STEUBENVILLE - Gov. John Kasich and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor made a campaign stop Tuesday at the Triple Play Cafe and accepted the endorsement of the 21,000-member strong Ohio Restaurant Association.
A lively crowd gathered at the cafe, owned by Al Macre, to see the governor speak, as well as witness the endorsement of the state's third largest industry.
Geoff Hetrick, president and chief executive officer for the association, said Republicans Kasich and Taylor have helped the association's restaurant members and small businesses through lowering taxes and cutting state bureaucracy that was cumbersome to restaurants.
Gov. John Kasich
Hetrick said Ohio restaurants employ more than 534,000 people.
"That's 10 percent of the state's workforce," he said, adding restaurants collect a large percentage of the state's sales taxes.
The collective decided to endorse the governor and his running mate again because they've had a positive influence on the industry by tearing down boundaries.
"They've cut taxes by more than $3 billion," Hetrick said.
Macre introduced Taylor, who said she was more than happy to help small Ohio businesses such as the Triple Play.
"This is an exciting time for our campaign," Taylor said. "It's always great to be back here in Steubenville. It's businesses like this that make Ohio a great place to be."
Kasich began by making the case jobs have grown in the four years since he was first elected governor. He said before he took office, the state was down 350,000 jobs and now was up 260,000 jobs.
"We've cut taxes dramatically for small businesses," he said. "That's really important."
Kasich and Taylor are being challenged on the Nov. 4 ballot by Democrat Ed FitzGerald, the county executive of Cuyahoga County, and his running mate, Sharen Neuhardt, a Dayton-area attorney.
The governor said the area reminded him of his hometown of McKees Rocks, Pa. - though acknowledged Jefferson County's unemployment rate still was too high.
"These towns are struggling," he said, adding unemployment was down from a high of 13.5 percent to 7.5 percent. "It's still too high. We've got to get these jobs going."
Kasich said he believed the area was ripe for downstream growth from the oil and gas industries, adding Jefferson County could become a place of manufacturing again.
"They take this stuff and make wonderful things out of it," he said.
Kasich added the environment must be protected while at the oil and gas industry is allowed to grow.
"We may have to put in some more (environmental) rules," he said, adding there must be a balance between the industry, jobs and the environment.
He acknowledged the importance of the Ohio River and what it could mean for growth. He said the state is taking an inventory of the river to see how it could be used in the future.
Kasich also discussed schools, saying they need work.
"We have to make sure we have the education (to obtain jobs)," he said. "We need to make sure we are training kids for the jobs that exist."
Jobs that had been shipped overseas were beginning to come back to the U.S., but in a different form, Kasich said. He added technology was something to be embraced and not feared.
Kasich briefly discussed the area's drug problem, adding his administration had been working with physicians and law enforcement officials to reduce the number of prescriptions for narcotics that are written. He said talking to children at a young age about the dangers of drugs was important, while imprisonment wasn't always the answer for those addicted.
"I think we're winning more battles now than we ever have before," Kasich said, adding the community needed to become involved to solve the problem. "This is a place of old-fashioned values. If you want to see improvement, it has to be one person at a time. We have to have more people involved in our communities again."