A football star at Montpelier High School in the 1980s, Williams County native Jon Husted initially wanted to be a college football coach after playing football and graduating from the University of Dayton in 1989.
But he volunteered for a congressional campaign in the Dayton area after college, which has turned into a nearly 30-year career in public service. And Husted is now completing his second four-year term as Ohio secretary of state as he campaigns as candidate for lieutenant governor on the Republican ticket with Attorney General Mike DeWine.
But someday, “I’d like to finish my political career as (Ohio) governor, and then go coach football ... but not at Michigan,” Husted said to laughter during remarks to the Bryan Kiwanis Club, Wednesday at the Bryan Moose Club.
Husted addressed the Kiwanis after a morning visiting the Williams County Fair, which brought back memories for Husted, who graduated from Montpelier High in 1985, when the school was located on East Main Street (now the site of Main Street Park).
“During the fair I used to walk from school to the fair, and I remember I would get a sausage sandwich, a milkshake and donuts. The breakfast of champions,” Husted joked, drawing chuckles from the 30 Kiwanis members.
While campaigning with less than 55 days to the Nov. 6 election, Husted touted the ongoing efficiencies of his current position as secretary of state, saying his staffing is down 40 percent since he took over in 2010.
“We have to be more efficient, more effective at ways that (save money), so when we save money we can deploy those resources where they are needed,” such as efforts to help students attend college, he said.
Husted also said his goal as secretary of state is “to make it easy to vote, and hard to cheat,” and pointed to the proliferation of absentee voting as evidence that’s it’s easier than ever to cast a ballot. On the other hand, he said his office has worked successfully to eliminate voter fraud, saying a canvass of the most recent gubernatorial election showed that there were less than 1,000 instance of voting irregularities or of non-citizens casting ballots.
“That’s important, people have to have trust in democracy ... and faith that no one is voting that shouldn’t be voting,” he said.
Husted also took questions from Kiwanis members, including one about the ongoing Michindoh aquifer controversy. He said he “aware of it,” having heard about it from a number of people he talked to at the fair earlier, and had noticed the number of yard signs.
When he asked for a show of hands of members who opposed the plan as proposed, at least three-quarters of attendees raised their hands, but he was non-committal on whether he would use his position, if elected, to take action on the issue, saying he needed more facts.
“Our natural resources should be a shared benefit, and they should be protected. It’s a complicated issue ... we have to have a balance,” he said.
In response to another question, Husted said he did “a lot of contemplation” before deciding to drop his bid as governor and join DeWine’s ticket as lieutenant governor, which led him to reveal that while he has “no desire to go to Washington,” he someday plans to run for governor of Ohio, then retire and coach football.