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2018 was a big election year in Ohio. Republicans held onto all five statewide executive offices including governor and super majorities in both the Ohio House and Senate. But there were a few bright spots for Democrats, among them the reelection of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and the election of two Democrats to the Ohio Supreme Court.With election 2018 over, the focus now shifts to governing. Stay connected with the latest on politics, policies and people making the decisions at all levels affecting your lives.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill Plans to Run For Governor -- Unless Richard Cordray Runs

photo of Bill O'Neill

Ohio Supreme Court JusticeBill O’Neillhas announced he’ll be filing to run for governor next year – on one condition.

O’Neill – a registered nurse and former reporter – said he finally knows “what he wants to be when he grows up” in announcing his intention to file in February. Speaking in front of about 60 people at the Chagrin Falls Township Hall today, he laid out his vision for Ohio: Reopening the state’s mental health facilities, legalizing and taxing marijuana, and building a high-speed rail line from Cleveland to Columbus to Cincinnati.

O’Neill says those are the issues Democrats need to talk about, and he’s not worried about his sometimes testy relationship with party leadership.

“If you look at the results of the primary in 2012 – I won 87 out of 88 counties in the Democratic Primary. Grassroots Democrats support me in everything I do.”

O’Neill also wants to slash tuition at state colleges and universities, pointing to Youngstown State as an example of how to bring costs down.

“About a year ago, President (Jim) Tresselturned down a pay raise. I think we have to look at the administrative costs and I think we also have to look at why is the Ohio General Assembly not making state universities a priority? They should be a priority; they’re the future of our state.”

O’Neill joins a crowded field with four other Democrats already seeking the nomination. But he says he will leave the race if Richard Cordray – head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – decides to run.

There are also four Republicans seeking their party’s nomination.

O’Neill is the lone Democrat on the Ohio Supreme Court. He turned 70 in May, making him ineligible to run for another term. He says he plans to step down from the bench in February – 11 months early – to file to run. 

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.