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Race for Ohio: The Bruin interviews Nan Whaley, Democratic gubernatorial nominee

BY ALEX BANKS, CARLEY SORRENT, & LUKE HOUSER

In order to keep up with the Ohio Gubernatorial Race, The Bruin interviewed Democratic candidate Nan Whaley. The goal was to shed light on how she was as a high school student, and why students now should be involved.

Whaley is a politician and former mayor of Dayton, Ohio. Before winning the 2013 election for Mayor, she was elected to the Dayton City Commission. She won reelection for Mayor in 2017 after running unopposed.

Whaley went to an all girls Catholic boarding school for her high school experience in Oldenburg, Indiana. She graduated with only forty-four other girls and went to Oldenburg Academy.

During her freshman, sophomore, and junior years she was the president of her student class. She was the vice president of the student body during her senior year.

“I think it’s important to stand up for what you believe in no matter where you are, and I think that’s something I learned particularly in high school and college,” Whaley said.

She was the first to graduate from college in her family. Her parents encouraged her to do a business or science degree, and she liked science better so she majored in chemistry. Although she got her major in chemistry, she got a minor in political science. She found political science classes more interesting, but she did not yet realize that she wanted to run for office.

Going to an all girls school instituted a lot of the feminism that Whaley has today. Having only women in the school gave women the opportunities to be leaders, inspiring her to do the same.

“I don’t think I thought about [Roe vs. Wade] a lot in high school, I don’t think it was a big conversation because Roe was the law of the land, but certainly, when I went to university and I went to a Catholic university, it did affect me there,” Whaley said. “And, the anti-choice group tried to kick the college Democrats off campus. We had constant fights around abortion issues on campus.”

Currently, in Ohio, there is a ban for abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, which was enacted by Mike Dewine. One of Whaley’s priorities is to overturn this.

“We gotta overturn the six-week abortion ban,” Whaley said. “One of things we’ll do first, after being elected, is to put it on the ballot to codify Roe, so Roe vs. Wade is the law of the land in the state and in the Ohio Constitution, and it can never be taken away no matter what extremist gets in office.”

She also wants to make sure that public education is not privatized. Whaley wants to make sure that charters have the same regulations that public schools have.

One concern that students going into the workforce have is minimum wage and being paid fairly. The current minimum wage is federally $7.25. One of the first things that Nan Whaley’s campaign announced is raising the minimum wage to 15 dollars an hour.

“People are getting paid too little and still having to go to the food bank to provide for their kids,” Whaley said. “It is un-American and un-Ohioan. We need to make sure that the reason why people work is to have dignity in work and to be able to provide for their families.”

She does not think that raising the minimum wage will lead to a price increase.

During the Google Meet interview with Nan Whaley, the BeReal social media alert went off. Whaley asked the students if they would like to be in her BeReal and they agreed. BeReal is a social media app that asks users to “be honest” about what they doing each day and show their follows what their life is like on a day-to-day basis. Photo courtesy of Nan Whaley.

“I think we have to give support to small businesses because small businesses have a challenge with that. But they can provide small business support as we work. The bottom line is that we have to realize that the reason why we want the economy to thrive is so that people can provide for their family.”

Currently, most places are paying close to Whaley’s goal for minimum wage, but she wants to get every business to that level.

“It is unsustainable for us to expect people to work for so low of a wage and provide for themselves, much less their kids,” Whaley said.

To help citizens deal with the recent inflation, she wants to issue an inflation rebate. This would give $350 to every person that is working class.

She also wants to suspend the gas tax for six months, which is about 38.5 cents per gallon. She also intends to go after price gouging.

“Right now, in Ohio, under Mike Dewine, it’s legal for corporations to gouge consumers with no repercussions,” Whaley said. “We’re one of the few states where that is legal and what we’ve seen in the statehouse and with this governor is that, basically, big business and big pharma and utilities, they basically bankroll Mike Dewine’s campaign. So in return, he doesn’t pay any attention to what workers and families need.”

Intel, a semiconductor chip manufacturer, is coming to Columbus, which will give many job opportunities to people in Ohio. Whaley is in favor of Intel workers unionizing.

“The whole reason why we have a middle class is because of organized labor,” Whaley said. “Keep in mind, corporations don’t just do things out of generosity. And, workers’ abilities to use their voice collectively is really key.”

Whaley is also prioritizing making Ohio a place where students want to stay after they graduate.

“I have so many friends that would have loved to stay in Ohio, but couldn’t find a good job to be able to do that,” Whaley said. “And that’s really important- we can’t have all the good jobs just be in one metro and in the Columbus metro, they have to be all across the state… that’s what our ‘one good job’ pledge is about.”

In addition, she wants to help make Ohio a more inclusive and accepting place for people to live in.

“Young people aren’t really interested in a place where women don’t have say or freedom over their bodies and the LGBT community is not respected or even able to rent a house without being discriminated against,” Whaley said. “And right now in Ohio that is legal. It is legal as an LGBT person for a landlord to kick you out just because you’re gay. So we’ve been trying for like ten years to change that, and your generation is an inclusive and open-minded and progressive generation frankly on these social issues and the state legislature and government here are way out of step, and it’s gonna be the key to growth. So people are going to make their choices based on those efforts, like if you’re able to have a safe pregnancy that will be the case in Ohio because we don’t have access to everything [that] OBGYN can offer… All of these pieces are really key for having growth in the state.”

She is also hoping to increase gun safety in Ohio. In 2019, during her time as the mayor of Dayton, it underwent a mass shooting that killed nine people and injured 29 in the span of 32 seconds.

“I’ve been pushing hard for two things: universal background checks, which nine out of ten Ohioans support, and what’s called extreme risk protection orders, or red flag laws,” Whaley said. “Extreme risk protection orders particularly cut down on mass shootings because when someone’s not acting mentally right, their family and loved ones can make sure that they don’t have access to deadly weapons, which when anyone is involved in a mass shooting, they’re not in their right mind. No one normal would do that. That extreme risk protection orders has saved hundreds of lives in places like Florida and Indiana, and we don’t have that because the gun lobby and gun makers own Mike DeWine. For me that’s very personal, as a community that’s gone through feeling unsafe.”

She is against Mike DeWine’s bill that allows teachers to carry guns in class with twenty-four hours of training. She believes that arming cafeteria workers, bus drivers, and teachers does not help people feel more safe.

Mental health is another issue that has great importance to Whaley and she believes that it needs more funding.

“The state has dramatically cut mental health services over the past 10 years,” Whaley said. “So, not only is it really hard to find a mental health provider in your community, but it’s not offered in the schools either. And if it is offered in the schools, particularly that’s usually locally funded. We can do that pretty easily by cutting loopholes for the wealthy who pay the same amount of taxes I pay as a middle class person.”

In addition to mental health, she also wants to address and solve the opioid epidemic. The epidemic impacted Ohio so badly that it is considered “ground zero”.

“I’m in Dayton– Dayton was the tip of the spear from the opioid epidemic in 2017, we led the country in accidental overdose deaths,” Whaley said. “We were able, because the local community came together to cut accidental deaths in half and we’ve kept them down even when other communities have seen an increase in opioid addiction deaths and it’s because we are constant around funding mental health services.”

Whaley is excited at the possibilities if she is successful in her election, and looks forward to involving Ohio’s youth into her plans.


*The Bruin staff has reached out to Mayor Whaley’s opponent, Governor Mike DeWine, but was unable to schedule an interview before the publication of the October issue. Our hopes is to have that interview with Gov. DeWine before election day.

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