By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.
The Truth Contributor
If the people in your circle aren’t contributing to your growth, then you’re not in a circle… you’re in a cage. – Kianu Starr
Having won a single solitary Ohio gubernatorial race in the past 32 years, Democrats have been like a bird in the Republican Party’s cage of political control. With its wings of power clipped and feet of middle class and inclusive policies bound, the Ohio Democratic Party has been merely able to sit upon its lonesome legislative perch and:
“sing with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill…” (Maya Angelou, 1983).
Ohio Lieutenant Governor candidate and Toledo native Theresa Fedor is a part of the joint gubernatorial ticket with Cincinnati’s former Mayor John Cranley in the Democratic primary on May 3, 2022. Fedor believes that this is the year that the cage swings open, and the Democrats finally break free of GOP control of the Ohio governor’s office.
I tracked down a tireless Fedor for a one-on-one discussion about her candidacy. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force and the Ohio Air National Guard, she earned a B.S. in Education from the University of Toledo and has worked as an educator for Toledo Public Schools. In addition, Fedor has served in the Ohio legislature for the past 22 years. Here is our conversation:
Perryman: We last talked in 2018, and that article was “Columbus in Her Blood.”
What have you been up to since?
Fedor: I’ve been working to strengthen and modernize our public schools to reach 1.7 million children, give them the opportunity they deserve, and be ready to live out their potential and dreams.
Perryman: And now you’re on the Ohio gubernatorial ticket!
Fedor: When former mayor John Cranley asked me to consider, I told him I had to say yes. I endorsed him after meeting with him a couple of times and really got to know his plans. I also shared what I thought needed to happen for Ohio to prosper and grow the middle class and give our children the opportunity they deserve.
Perryman: What went into your decision to team up with Cranley?
Fedor: In making that decision, I thought about all of the work that I’ve been doing fighting for people who need us the most and to help our communities be strong, raise children, grow our population and economy in Ohio, and I’ve been there 22 years in a front row seat. I thought, well, yes, I have something that I can contribute, and John has plans. So, I will take this opportunity, not run for reelection for the Senate, and jump into a wider opportunity to affect 11 million people and their future.
Perryman: Your vantage from the Ohio Legislature surely arms you with valuable and relevant preparation.
Fedor: I’m prepared, I’m ready. I’ve been through 22 budgets, whether an operating budget or a capital budget. I know where investments need to go. Currently, investments are not going into areas such as public education, mental health, healthcare, higher education, affordable higher education, and more transportation. Current leadership are also not providing a better quality of life so our young people don’t leave and can stay in Ohio, grow their families, and have them here. I have not regretted any, not one day, the decision I made to join John Cranley as his lieutenant governor.
Perryman: Should you prevail in the election, what will Ohioans be getting in Theresa Fedor as lieutenant governor?
Fedor: Ohioans will have a vision of hope for themselves, their family, and Ohio’s future. We will be able to invest our resources into people instead of profits. The top one percent keep getting the tax cuts when those monies need to go into having a constitutional school funding formula. After 25 years, the Republicans have rejected that call from the Supreme Court to fix school funding.
Ohio is supposed to be investing more money into all of our schools and not depend on the local property taxes to fund local schools, so that’s number one. We will do the education budget first because that’s the most important investment, which is quite frankly revolutionary. After all, that’s our most important resource in driving the economy.
Perryman: In the past week, a federal judge found that the Florida voter suppression law, SB 90, intentionally discriminates against Black voters. That judge then blocked the law’s limitations on drop boxes, line warming ban and restrictions on third party voter registration. Given the massive mess of Ohio’s redistricting maps and our gerrymandering problem, where do you stand?
Fedor: The citizens of Ohio voted over 70 percent, which means the overwhelming majority of the citizens, whether Republican or Democrat, said that we want fair maps drawn in Ohio and an amendment to our Constitution. So, legislators swore an oath to the Constitution along with statewide officeholders, so that is their guideline and what they are supposed to do. Now that seems to be a problem with the majority party here. It appears as though they are obstinate children, absolutely refusing to do what they need to do. Lo and behold, the Republicans came out of the corner, the backroom. They brought out a map that was already rejected and deemed unconstitutional.
Perryman: You used the term ‘obstinate children’ when describing Republicans’ actions.
Fedor: That is obstinance, a direct attack on democracy. They want to rule, they don’t want to allow democracy to work, but the people spoke twice. Voters need to realize what’s going on here, and if it takes the courts to help us out, it’s going to take the courts, but we cannot wave the white flag. We have to persist and keep going. We know there’s a primary on May 3rd for the statewide races, so that’s what I’m faced with. I’m hoping people absolutely go out to exercise their right to vote because we can’t allow this type of leadership in Ohio, not in this day and time.
Perryman: What about state issues such as HB 327, I believe it is, which prohibits teaching factual history regarding race and what the State of Ohio deems as divisive concepts?
Fedor: It’s an ideological scheme to put fear into teachers and people who believe that Americans and our children deserve to know our history’s authentic truth. It leads me to wonder why they can’t handle the truth? This is anti-democratic; it’s a political scheme. It’s racist, period.
Perryman: To shift a little bit, how about rail transportation between Toledo and Columbus and maybe Toledo, Detroit and Ann Arbor?
Fedor: I just talked about that this morning in a press conference I had on expanding childcare. Transportation needs to be dealt with just like childcare and universal preschool. These are issues of modern-day, modern times, and if Ohio wants to move out of the 21st Century into the next, we must put that at the top of the priority list. I am totally working with John Cranley on issues to bring in and usher that type of transportation system. There’s no reason why we can’t. We will build the political will.
Perryman: Do you have plans for bringing more women and minorities into leadership positions?
Fedor: Absolutely. When you take a look at John Cranley’s campaign, we have many women already involved who have years of experience in politics and working with women all across the board and also just providing those opportunities where they get to lead. My philosophy with John is that we pull people together, let them put their best foot forward, and push those ideas through the process, so they walk in that leadership.
Perryman: Anything else that you want to add?
Fedor: I want to add that you’ll see in Cranley/Fedor administration growth in minority businesses, just like in Cincinnati. John grew minority businesses there from seven percent to 12 percent. So, I still think we can do that plus more for the State of Ohio. I also think the research and development on investments in public universities will be critical. We will also rebuild infrastructure throughout the state using the federal government money that’s come down through the Biden administration. Democrats will make the investments to get Ohio back on track.
Perryman: Cranley and I have previously discussed minority-led nonprofits, which suffer many of the same obstacles and barriers as minority-owned businesses and contractors. I’m hopeful that your team can also tackle that issue.
Fedor: You know, nonprofits hold a prominent place in my heart. I have worked in the human trafficking space for 17 years. I’ve seen quite a bit on the front lines of people trying to start something in a nonprofit and then figuring out it’s too hard. Well, why is that? What do we need to do?
We can improve in helping people be successful and sustain their work. How do we support it, and how do we build strong nonprofits because they are so important? Some of the survivors of human trafficking that I know are so critical in getting the work done and having an impact. We need to ensure their nonprofit is sustainable because they’re doing the work I cannot. I cannot go in and do that work. I’m not credible.
We need to recognize how these pieces all fit together. We can do better. That’s my hope and dream, and I’m so excited about this opportunity because the hard work of human trafficking has taught me so much. I can see the path. I know what to do and how to do it.
Perryman: Many Ohio voters are also counting on the Cranley/Fedor ticket to set them free from decades of Republican control.
Fedor: Yes. With the Cranley/Fedor ticket Ohio absolutely is going to be a delight. It will be a delight. We will celebrate.
Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, PhD, at firstname.lastname@example.org