Nan Whaley

Nan Whaley is interviewed outside of the Donkey Coffee House in Athens.

Dayton mayor and Democratic gubernatorial nomination hopeful Nan Whaley visited Athens on Friday as a part of her campaign tour of Southeast Ohio.

Whaley made a stop at Donkey Coffee and Espresso in Uptown Athens, where she discussed her platform in the race for the governor seat, following a tour of an area solar facility: Third Sun Solar. Prior to arriving in the city, Whaley also toured Steubenville and Marietta, and this weekend she has a planned stop in Chillicothe.

Whaley will be facing off against Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley in May 2022.

Whaley told The NEWS that she began the campaign trail in Southeast Ohio, because, similarly to the city she oversees, she feels the region has been “forgotten and ignored” by the Ohio Statehouse, stating the governor should be a “real partner to communities” in the state.

A plan for Statehouse accountability

In the state’s government, Whaley pointed to a need for accountability among lawmakers in the wake of the House Bill 6 scandal, where State Rep. Larry Householder (R-Glenford) was indicted on federal charges alleging his central involvement in a $60 million racketeering scheme designed to pass widely controversial 2019 legislation that bailed out Ohio First Energy nuclear plants.

Whaley recently published a plan to combat corruption within state politics, emphasizing a need for transparency within state government and a system of checks and balances on power, with people who are not elected officials serving as the judges of politicians rather than the politicians themselves.

Whaley’s plan contains the following steps, according to Whaley’s website:

  • Create a new Public Accountability Commission to “investigate corruption and shed light on political wrongdoing, taking the power to investigate politicians out of the hands of politicians and giving it back to the people”

  • Strengthen funding to the agencies tasked with upholding ethics in the state; seek the collection of penalties owed to taxpayers

  • Hold the administration and its appointed officials “accountable to the highest ethical standards”

  • Work with the legislature to “close dark money loopholes and bring real transparency to political spending”

Police reform and equity

Whaley pointed also to a need for police reform, pointing to efforts that have been implemented in the City of Dayton. Last year, a few committees were formed to draft a lengthy list of recommendations to reform the city’s police force. Recommendations included a shift to alternative response models, for example, where agents responding to a call could potentially be mental health professionals as opposed to law enforcement officers.

However, as of April, less than 4 percent of those 142 recommendations have been completed by Dayton’s police department, according to a report by Dayton Daily News.

Dayton officials in 2020 passed a resolution to declare racism a public health emergency in its city; Athens City Council passed a similar measure days later.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, infant and maternal mortality rates among Black women and babies is 2.5 times higher than that of white women and babies. In addition, Black Ohioans have higher rates of mortality in terms of the coronavirus (COVID-19), heart disease, cancer and more. Overall, Black Ohioans have a life expectancy that is 4 years less than that of white Ohioans, according to the Health Policy Institute of Ohio.

In Dayton, Whaley noted a tactic that the city has implemented to address the lack of equity in healthcare amid the pandemic was the allocation of COVID-19 vaccines to Black residents.

“We need to be asking what we can do better,” Whaley said.

Building infrastructure, protecting housing, and providing broadband

Whaley voiced support of the American Rescue Plan, which includes funding for transportation, water, sewer and broadband systems.

Whaley pointed to a need to bring broadband services to rural places, noting that the current state of the digital divide is an example of “lack of investment in communities” by state leaders.

“If we waited for companies to electrify this area, we’d still be in the dark,” she told The NEWS.

In her city, she noted during the pandemic, many students lacked reliable Internet access and relied on the area’s library systems as a means to complete their school assignments.

Whaley also discussed with The NEWS a need to protect Ohioans’ housing.

The City of Athens recently passed a source of income discrimination ban, an ordinance Whaley commended and hopes to see passed in her city. The measure defines source of income as money earned through wages, social security, supplemental security income, child support, spousal support and public assistance, according to the ordinance. Also included are federal, state and local assistance payments or subsidies, including rent vouchers.

A similar measure is under consideration in Dayton.

“Look, it shouldn’t matter where you get your income,” she said.

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