LEWIS CENTER — Frustrated with the lack of progress in solving the problems facing Ohioans today, Rachael Morocco, D-Lewis Center, has publicly announced her candidacy for the Ohio District 67 state representative seat.
“We need to figure out what is most important to Ohioans and make it a bigger priority in the future,” she said. “That’s really why I’m in it, to build a better future for my children, for my patients, neighbors and friends. I want to make sure that I’m leaving behind everything that I can to make the next generation stronger, more prosperous and healthy.”
Morocco, a pediatrician with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, said she was inspired to run for office based on the conversations and relationships she has built with her patients.
“I realized there is room for someone with my kind of experience, my voice as a physician, and as a parent who has a child with special needs,” she said. “I never thought that I would be here actually, but when I started paying attention, I kept seeing the repetition in the issues I was hearing about in my clinic.”
Morocco said while working on gun violence protections, she got to spend a little time in committee meetings and on the floor of the statehouse. She also made the observation that most people don’t follow what is going on at the statehouse.
“I feel like, in general, most people don’t pay a ton of attention to what happens at the state level,” she said. “In reality, a lot of things happen at the state level that are very important to us in daily life, and they happen very quickly, so I think there is just not an awareness there.”
Morocco said her biggest reason for getting into state politics is to revamp the state’s educational structure.
“The education system, in general, is just flawed,” she said. “I think that we need to make it a priority in our statehouse. Quality education for the pre-K years, elementary, middle, high school, and post-secondary education as well. Whether it be in labor or a four-year degree, Ohioans need the skills so they can get a good job to help build the economy and build a stronger Ohio.”
Morocco said the educational revamp would include the funding mechanism, the implementation of mental health resources, wrap-around services, and opportunities for special needs students.
Some of the other issues that Morocco would like to address as a state representative include:
• Prioritizing fair state funding for K-12 education with a formula that reflects real educational costs and decreases dependence on local levies.
• Improving Ohioans’ access to affordable college and workforce-focused job training.
• Expanding access to quality, affordable health care for women, children, veterans and families.
• The increasing availability of mental health services – including in schools – for families and individuals in crisis.
• Supporting gun violence prevention efforts with mandatory background checks, red-flag laws, and safe gun-storage education.
• Continuing progress in battling the opioid crisis and the damaging effects on the workforce, economy, families, and public safety.
• Providing a better future for Ohio’s families with a realistic minimum wage and bridging gender gaps.
• Managing growth smartly and responsibly with local control and needed investments in infrastructure.
Morocco earned her undergraduate degree from Mt. Union College, received her medical degree from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, and completed her residency at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. She has been a pediatrician at Nationwide Children’s Hospital since 2011 and is also a professor at Ohio State University’s medical school. She was born and raised in northeastern Ohio.
Morocco and her husband moved to the Lewis Center area in 2011 and are parents of two sons. She relishes the opportunity to serve residents in her district and throughout Ohio.
“It’ll be tough, but I’ve got some pretty thick skin and I’m prepared for it,” she said. “My family is very supportive, my husband is on board, and I have a good support system in place. I think I can handle it.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.