Jack Schron on the Economy, Social Services and Being a Republican in Cuyahoga County
UPDATED: Hear ideastream's extended interview with Jack Schron. He begins answering a question about whether Cuyahoga County is attracting enough good-paying jobs.
SCHRON: "One of the things that we’ve done is this new economic development fund, which I’ve played a vital role in structuring it….I think the county executive can be not only the CEO of the county, but they can be the chief employment officer going out there and looking for places, for example Warsaw, Indiana, encouraging them to bring their medical device manufacturer here."
CASTELE: "I’ve heard you speak in favor of the convention center project, the Medical Mart project – now the Global Center for Health Innovation. How do you explain your support to a fiscally conservative voter who might question all of the government spending and government debt that it took to build those? And I’d include the hotel in that package, too."
SCHRON: "What we have to do is we have to look at where government should play a role and where should private industry play a role, and try to make sure that we support both in its appropriate role...As a business guy, I know that you’ve got to invest at some point in some activities and some infrastructure."
CASTELE: "Do you think that that kind of approach is consistent with the Republican outlook on things?"
SCHRON: "Where people sometimes will think of Republicans as being not wanting to spend money in the government sector, what we want to do is we want to spend it wisely. We want to spend it efficiently. We want to spend it effectively…Because…the restaurants will benefit, the hotels will benefit, the folks in the transportation industry will benefit, our airport will benefit."
CASTELE: "I think if you live in this county long enough, you’ll notice that there are divisions along lines of race, along lines of income. And one way you see this is in infant mortality rates. They’re much, much higher for black babies in this county than they are for white babies. And in some cases several times the national rate. Should the county do something about this and other health disparities that we see fall along racial lines?"
SCHRON:"When you look at my program and my campaign, it’s around two functions. One is the economic development we just talked about. The other half is being able to provide county serv ices much more efficiently and effectively."
CASTELE: "What do you mean by that? What do you think isn’t being done that needs to be taken up?"
SCHRON: "We need to move into better ways in which we use technology. Right now the private sector is using iPads everywhere…We need to be thinking, How can we use those kind of tools? Instead of having that single mother having to go to multiple places to register and be part of the system, we should be able to walk in, sit down, flip open the iPad, have our health and human service providers be able to register and log that person in in multiple different databases so that all that service can be provided."
CASTELE: "Now one element of this picture is healthcare and healthcare coverage. And I know earlier in this campaign, you said you weren’t sure if expanding Medicaid eligibility was financially a good move for the state. But I understand that I think your thinking on that has evolved or has changed a little bit. What do you make of it now?"
SCHRON: "I still have this obligation to make sure we’re taking care of the citizens and concerns about the dollars and where does it go. We are concerned that when you take federal money, is it going to be there for the long term. And so did I express concerns about that? Yes. And am I taking the federal monies for that support today? Would I suggest taking that? If you use the word ‘evolve,’ yes. I’m willing to take that."
CASTELE: "Now, you’re a Republican running in a heavily Democratic county. I think it’s been—"
SCHRON: "I am? I didn’t know that! Oh, geez!"
CASTELE: (laughter) "…And it’s been 20 years since a Republican won a major seat in this county. What’s the case that you make for yourself? Why should someone who usually votes for Democratic candidates cast a vote for you?"
SCHRON: "I really believe that this is a year in which people are willing to say, We’re looking for a different alternative. Where has the Democratic Party actually taken us for the last 30 years? And where’s the gains been?... I’m not asking anyone to change parties. I’m just asking you to vote for Jack Schron this year, this one time, and see what it gets you, and see where it takes you."