Republican Gov. John Kasich took a ceremonial oath Monday afternoon in front of hundreds at the Ohio Theatre, half a block from the Ohio Capitol Building, where he says he will work to curb Ohio’s budget deficit and create more jobs.
But now that the ceremony is over and the promises have been made, students are left wondering, “What now?”
“I’m just interested to see if (Kasich is) actually going to change things like he says he is, like a lot of politicians do,” said Doug Fleischmann, a third-year in history. “I don’t want to point fingers, but I think the big guy at the top (referring to President Barack Obama) said he was going to change a lot and so far I haven’t seen it.”
Throughout the campaign, Kasich’s competition, former Gov. Ted Strickland, painted Kasich as anti-student and anti-education, threatening that Kasich would undo all of his work to make education more affordable.
In the two-and-a-half months since election night, Kasich has refrained from discussing tuition rates in detail, but has said he isn’t ruling out the possibility of a hike in the cost of higher education. Kasich is facing an $8 billion deficit he has promised to decrease during his tenure.
The economy and job market were major talking points in his inaugural speech, given minutes after he and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor were ceremoniously sworn-in.
“It is my only purpose, it is my only passion,” Kasich said about Ohio’s economy. “Nothing will stand in our way.”
Kasich’s most recent play before inauguration events began was to hire venture capitalist Mark Kvamme to transition Ohio from the Department of Development to a private nonprofit company called JobsOhio in order to rejuvenate the state’s techonology production and manufacturing.
“I’m really hoping that will spike the job count in Ohio and there will be no more government oversight of the department,” said Ohio State College Republican President Meagan Cyrus, a third year in political science. “I think it will make the department a lot more efficient and there will be no more government red tape.”
Though Kasich received some criticism following this announcement, he said there are critical assessments that can only be made by a government outsider.
Kvamme will “assess what works and what doesn’t work (in the department) and how they can improve with the purpose for creating jobs,” Kasich said Friday on OSU’s campus. “And to make sure that Ohio is going to answer the call to be creative and imaginative.”
About one-third of university graduates leave the state of Ohio within three years of graduation. Kasich said he hopes to change that.
Change was a consistent theme throughout Kasich’s campaign and it found its way into his inaugural slogan, “New Day.” He said he wants to help Ohio realize its promise and destiny.
“It is so exciting to be a part of a movement that answers the bell,” Kasich said. “As Ohio goes, so does America. They are watching us.”
The crowd, which included supporters, such as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner, met the governor with applause and a standing ovation.
“I thought he was very inspiring. Sure, he was a little emotional, but he talked about his family and his friends and God,” said Josh Bodner, a second-year in electrical and computer engineering who attended the inauguration. “He was showing he cares about the people a lot. And he definitely showed he cares about what the state is doing and where we’re going.”
Still, Kasich was met with disapproval from half a dozen people on the steps of the Statehouse across the street, who were holding Strickland/Brown campaign posters from last fall’s heated race between the two candidates.
Following his oath, which occurred just after 12:15 p.m., Kasich warned Ohioans against being selfish and against partisan prejudice.
“We are not Republicans, we are not Democrats. We are Ohioans, we are Buckeyes, together!” he said. “Our enemies are those who refuse the power of the team. We will defeat them.”
President of the College Democrats Matt Caffrey, a fourth-year in political science, said that he thinks Kasich will do what he has promised.
“He’s just got this sort of vicious style to him and I expect him to try and make good on it,” Caffrey said.
Kasich came to office last November when Republicans swept the state and national races. In Ohio, the win was accompanied by the election of Taylor, as well as Senator Rob Portman, U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District Steve Stivers and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. Kasich is an OSU alumnus and is a former Ohio congressman and executive at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. The governor’s official signing-in was shortly after 12 a.m. Monday.
Sarah Stemen and Aaron Green contributed to this story.