Ohio voters will select the Democratic and Republican nominees for governor in the state’s May 8 primary election. As part of its 2018 election coverage, Prizm sought out the four Democratic and two Republican candidates’ positions on issues of importance to LGBTQ Ohioans.

The three leading Democratic candidates—Richard Cordray, Dennis Kucinich and Joe Schiavoni—responded. Republican Mary Taylor’s campaign declined an interview request. Republican Mike DeWine’s campaign didn’t respond. Democrat William O’Neill didn’t return answers to our questions.

Here are the answers we received from Schiavoni. Click here for Cordray’s answers, and click here for Kucinich’s responses.

And vote! Visit myohiovote.com for information about registering, early voting options, and polling places and voting hours on Election Day. 

The Youngstown native has cosponsored bills to expand nondiscrimination laws and ban ‘conversion therapy’ in Ohio.

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Joe Schiavoni, 38, has been a member of the Ohio Senate for 10 years. He represents a district that includes Youngstown, Boardman, Austintown and other communities in Mahoning and Columbiana counties.
Joe Schiavoni
“We need a new generation of leadership to move our state forward,” he said in announcing his campaign last year. Schiavoni would be the youngest governor of Ohio in 133 years.
The Democrat was born in Youngstown and graduated from high school in Boardman. He’s a lawyer who has specialized in workers’ compensation cases.
His nonpolitical claim to fame: Schiavoni was the Golden Gloves of Youngstown in 1995.
In 2008, Schiavoni was chosen by Democrats to fill out a term in the Ohio Senate. It was his first foray into politics. He won a full term in 2010 and was unopposed for re-election in 2014.
Schiavoni’s running mate is Stephanie Dodd, who has been elected twice to Ohio’s State Board of Education. She represents a district that covers 13 counties in Central and Southeastern Ohio. Dodd is a Zanesville native who lives in the Licking County village of Buckeye Lake, about 30 miles east of Columbus.
Here are Schiavoni’s answers to our questionnaire on issues of concern to LGBTQ Ohioans:

If a bill reached your desk that would add sexual orientation and gender identity/expression to the laws that make discrimination illegal in Ohio, would you sign it?

Absolutely. I cosponsored this bill in the Ohio Statehouse.

Do you support House Bill 160, the Ohio Fairness Act? 


Yes! In my position as state senator, I submitted testimony (see below) to the House Government Accountability & Oversight Committee in support of HB 160, the “Fairness Act.”
It’s 2018. LGBTQ Ohioans are free to marry the person they love. How can Ohio justify a legal system that still allows someone to deny them a job or home?
House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee House Bill 160
January 30, 2018 Good Morning Chairman Blessing, Vice Chair Reineke, Ranking Member Clyde and members of the House Government Oversight Committee. Thank you for allowing me to submit proponent testimony for House Bill 160.
As you know, this bill would create the Ohio Fairness Act, providing protections to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. I was compelled to show support for this legislation to ensure all Ohioans are treated equally and are provided the same opportunity to succeed.
The fact that it is still legal in our state to discriminate against anyone shows just how much work we still have ahead of us. In 2018, when LGBTQ Americans are free to marry the person they love and build a life with that person, how can we justify a legal system that still allows someone to deny those same Ohioans a job or a home?
We cannot claim to be providing all Ohioans a fair shot at success when state-sanctioned discrimination still exists in our own state. We cannot hope to attract the most talented and qualified individuals to Ohio when such discrimination is still permissible. And we cannot hope that our own children will stay close to home and help move Ohio forward when we will not move forward ourselves.
I ask that you help Ohio take this simple but critical step forward by passing this bill out of committee and moving it to the floor for a full vote. Too many Ohioans have waited far too long for this day. We shouldn’t make them wait another minute. Thank you for your time and your consideration.

In 2011, Gov. John Kasich eliminated gender identity from an executive order barring discrimination in state government employment. Will you add gender identity back in? 


Yes, I will.

Ohio is one of three states that do not let transgender people correct the gender marker on their birth certificates. Will you work with the Ohio Department of Health to resolve this? 


Yes.

Do you support a hate-crimes law that includes gender identity and sexual orientation? 


Absolutely. We have seen proof in recent years that these incidents are still occurring. According to the Human Rights Campaign, 2017 saw the most murders of transgender individuals in a decade. Now more than ever, we need to include gender identity and sexual orientation in hate crimes law. Everyone deserves to feel welcome in our state.

Do you support a statewide ban on so-called “conversion therapy” for minors? 


Yes. This past year, I cosponsored Sen. Charleta Tavares’ SB 126, which would ban conversion therapy in Ohio. I will push for passage of that bill as governor.

Would you support or oppose any legislation to dictate the public restrooms used by transgender people in Ohio? 


People should be able to use the bathroom that corresponds to the gender they identify with. This shouldn’t be an issue.

Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus and Dayton all ranked among the top cities on the Human Rights Campaign’s most recent Municipal Equality Index survey of local policies toward LGBTQ people. In the HRC’s State Equality Index, Ohio ranked among the lowest states. How do we make all of Ohio as welcoming and inclusive as its big cities? 


Every human being deserves to feel welcome and respected in the community where they live. We need to make sure our laws reflect that mentality.
Several larger Ohio cities have passed local laws banning the housing, employment and other forms of discrimination that are currently legal statewide. But many smaller communities still allow LGBTQ Ohioans to be treated unfairly.
Until we make it clear that discrimination is unacceptable in the eyes of the law, we may have trouble making positive change on a societal level.

When did you publicly announce your support for marriage equality?

I don’t remember an exact date, but I have supported marriage equality throughout my time as a legislator.

Tell us about some of the actions you have taken as a public official or elected office-holder to support and advance equality for LGBTQ people. 


I’ve discussed a lot of it already, but on top of that, for me it’s all about bringing people to the table and making sure everyone has a say in policies that impact their lives.
I have built relationships with LGBTQ Ohioans throughout my years in the Statehouse, and I will never write a bill or push an agenda impacting the LGBTQ community without their input. That’s how leaders should approach every policy decision.
Real people know each issue best. You have to meet with people and ask what they need in order to make meaningful change. I will always operate that way as governor.

SCHIAVONI ON OTHER ISSUES:
(visit joeforjobs.com)

EconomyProtect collective bargaining rights; encourage new jobs in growing fields by supporting green tech and emerging industries; targeted tax credits that add new jobs and make important upgrades; make potential job sites build-ready by cleaning up blight; raise the minimum wage; end tax credits to companies that go overseas.
Education: Reduce the amount of standardized testing; enact a constitutional funding system for Ohio schools; hold online charter schools accountable; expand school-based services to address poverty.
Healthcare: Protect Medicaid expansion; fund Planned Parenthood programs for women’s health; use 10 percent of the state’s emergency fund to fight the opioid epidemic; ensure reproductive freedom for women through affordable birth control, safe and legal abortion and access to information.
Opioid Crisis: Direct more resources to police, child-protection services agencies, ADAMH boards and local governments; increase capacity of treatment centers; incentivize doctors to offer outpatient treatment in underserved areas; change state law to help recovering addicts get a fresh start.
College: Increase state aid to colleges and universities; increase need-based student aid; erase student-loan debt for those who buy homes in targeted development areas.
Environment: Invest in green infrastructure and new water projects; impose “reasonable” regulation, greater transparency and reinvestment requirements for drilling; outlaw drilling in state parks; use bond money to fix and replace underground water infrastructure.
Marijuana: Work with experts, community leaders, law enforcement and others to explore ways to legalize recreational marijuana for personal use.
Gun Violence: Ban AR-15-style assault weapons (but favors a federal ban over a state ban); implement “extreme risk protection orders” banning firearm access for people who are a danger to themselves and others; increase funding for school-safety measures; strengthen background checks for gun purchases; ban bump stocks.
Revitalization: Offer tax exemption for those who remodel distressed properties; spend $50 million a year on infrastructure repair and public transit.
Bob Vitale
Bob Vitale is the editor of Prizm. A Toledo native and graduate of Toledo Public Schools, he has worked as a local government and politics reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, as a Washington correspondent for Thomson Newspapers and as editor-in-chief for Outlook Ohio. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science from Ball State University and a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield. Contact: BobVitale@prizmnews.com