PEPPER PIKE — Governor-elect and current Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine met with an Orange High School government class on Monday at the school to talk about issues facing the state of Ohio.
The longtime Republican political leader who won his first elected office in 1976 said he has found politics very rewarding over the years.
“I enjoy going after a problem and trying to fix it,” Mr. DeWine said. “That’s why you get involved in politics you want to make a difference.”
A class of nearly 30 juniors and seniors engaged with Mr. DeWine, 71, as he asked them what statewide issues they would address.
Junior Myles King, 17, of Pepper Pike said he would work to reduce gun violence. Myles’ mother, Felicia, has worked for Mr. DeWine since 1996.
Mr. DeWine explained that as attorney general, he helps run the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, also known as the state crime lab. There are three crime labs in Ohio, located in Richfield, London and Bowling Green. He said that another one of his duties is to help local prosecutors with their cases, including rapes and sexual assaults.
Senior Michael Neville, 18, of Moreland Hills said that he would try to improve the opioid epidemic.
Mr. DeWine stated that several years ago, drug companies informed doctors that pain medications were not addictive, although they turned out to be very addictive. This was one factor leading to the current opioid crisis, Mr. DeWine said.
“In Ohio, we’re losing somewhere between 12 and 15 people every day from drug overdoses,” he said.
Mr. DeWine also said that fentanyl has become extremely dangerous because a small amount is enough to kill someone.
“People buy drugs and don’t know how much fentanyl is in there,” he said.
In response to a question, Mr. DeWine said he does not support legalizing recreational use of marijuana.
He said that he and his wife, Frances, visited Colorado to observe the effects of recreational marijuana there. Mr. DeWine said that not only did marijuana use increase after it was legalized, but also people began using it at a younger age. Studies show that a person’s brain may not be fully developed until age 26, Mr. DeWine said, and marijuana use can decrease a person’s IQ by six to nine points. He added that people in Colorado began cooking with marijuana, such as mixing it into brownies, and children could unknowingly eat the food and end up in the emergency room.
Senior Noah Golovan, 17, of Hunting Valley said that he would work on education reform, and Mr. DeWine agreed, saying that the federal government does not offer much funding to local school districts.
Noah asked the governor-elect about the challenges of campaigning. Ohio is a difficult state to campaign in due to its diversity, Mr. DeWine explained, including large urban areas and spread out rural regions.
“The challenge in running statewide is how to reach people,” he said.
Mr. DeWine said candidates use a variety of ways to reach voters including going door to door and using paid media. Fundraising is crucial to any campaign, he said.
“The fun part for me is meeting people and talking to people,” he said.