Mike DeWine is one of four Republicans running for governor.

JACKSON TWP.  Ohio needs to get a handle on its drug crisis and do a better job training workers if it wants to realize a bright future, Attorney General Mike DeWine told supporters during a visit Monday to a local factory.

“I run for governor because I want to tackle these problems,” DeWine said. “I want to challenge them. I want to get in there and the first day I’m governor, we will do that.”

DeWine, who is one of four Republicans running for governor, started his statewide “Fight the Crisis” tour at Stolle Machinery, where he picked up the endorsement of North Canton Mayor David J. Held.

DeWine pledged to keep taxes and regulation low to create a pro-business, pro-job environment in the state, but said it’s difficult for businesses to find workers who can pass a drug test or who have needed skills.

Drug overdoses, primarily from opioids such as heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers, killed 4,050 Ohioans last year, including 119 people locally.

Under DeWine, the Attorney General’s Office has sued companies that make opioid painkillers, pushed police to carry the overdose-reversing medication naloxone, called for drug-prevention education for all school grades and helped investigate drug traffickers.

Twelve-point plan

Recently, DeWine released a 12-point plan to fight the opioid crisis that touches on various facets of addiction treatment and recovery, drug prevention and law enforcement.

The plan doesn’t have a price tag, but DeWine said drug companies should pay to fix the drug problem, and late last month he sent letters to drug makers and distributors, giving them 30 days to begin settlement talks.

During a meeting Monday with The Canton Repository’s editorial board, DeWine declined to say if any companies have opened talks with the state, but said he would keep the pressure on them.

“I’m going to make life as difficult as I can for them to get them to come to the table and have a serious conversation,” DeWine said.

Crowded race

The other Republicans running for governor are Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.

Taylor has proposed a 10-year bond issue to raise up to $1 billion to pay for treatment facilities, narcotics officers, and medical research and to help Ohioans without health insurance.

Among the Democratic candidates, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley has proposed taxing prescription opioids — 5 cents per dose — to raise money for emergency services, treatment centers and psychiatric hospitals.

DeWine said talking about opioids is important, whether people are discussing his plan or others.

“Anything that contributes to the debate, anything that contributes to the sense of urgency, is a positive thing,” he said.

Job training

Later in the day, at Stolle Machinery, DeWine talked about the need for job training.

The company has 155 workers and plans to add another 20 as it expands its 100,000-square-foot factory by 40 percent this year, said Mike Raderchak, Stolle’s vice president of sales.

DeWine cited the company as an example of how a business can work with local career schools to train workers and bring them into apprenticeships.

“We’re in Ohio, and I think the issue in Ohio is always about jobs,” DeWine said.

Reach Shane at 330-580-8338 or shane.hoover@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @shooverREP