Last updated: August 25. 2013 12:54AM - 250 Views

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LIMA — The statewide election is more than a year away, but Democrats are beginning their challenge of Gov. John Kasich and other Republican officeholders.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald and former Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper

spoke Wednesday at the Allen County Democratic Party’s annual spring dinner. Pepper recently announced his campaign for Ohio attorney general, and FitzGerald is expected to announce this week his candidacy for governor.

FitzGerald is a former FBI agent, prosecutor and mayor of Cleveland suburb Lakewood. Following a large public corruption scandal in Cuyahoga County, voters there voted for a new government structure and elected FitzGerald to serve as the first county executive.

FitzGerald said he wants to use a career of public service to make decisions as governor that benefit the middle class. As county executive, FitzGerald cleaned up the corruption scandal in Cuyahoga County, established tough ethics standards, created an economic development fund and increased early childhood education and universal pre-kindergarten.

“(Kasich has) really let people down in Ohio, especially middle class folks,” FitzGerald said. “In Cuyahoga County, we haven’t raised taxes, we’ve been very efficient; we’ve created a lot of jobs, and worked well with people together. I think that’s a big difference.”

FitzGerald criticized Kasich’s budgets, saying the governor has balanced them by taking money away from local communities and schools, then adding to the size of state government.

Pepper, an attorney who previously served on Cincinnati City Council, said he sees current Attorney General Mike DeWine inserting partisan politics into decision-making.

“The office should be above that," Pepper said. "When it speaks, it should not be speaking with a political hat, but a legal hat. It should be making the state safer, going after public corruption and all the things that undermine people’s confidence in government, and also protecting consumers.”

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