Gov. John Kasich on Monday met with members of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus in an effort to ease the racial tension that was sparked between the two sides last month over the Republican leader’s initial hiring of an all-white Cabinet.
OLBC chair Rep. Sandra Williams, a Cleveland Democrat, called the meeting a positive step and said both sides agreed to show more respect for one another and make a good faith effort to work together on legislative issues.
“One of the things that the governor said is that he realized, based on the conversations we had, that he didn’t do some things right,” said Williams. “He has agreed to have open dialogue with us. We definitely think this was a step in the positive direction.”
Kasich’s spokesman Rob Nichols agreed with Williams that the meeting was worthwhile and said the governor took the opportunity to clarify his earlier position on diversity.
“It was a good meeting. It confirmed what the governor has said all along that he is committed to diversity,” Nichols said. “He recognizes that diversity is something that you continue to work for, continue to strive for.”
“At the end of the day it is also about sharing his vision for governance, so, you know, he’s not going to appoint a bunch of liberal Democrats to his Cabinet positions,” Nichols said. “But diversity in itself is something he will work toward.”
The governor, who is white, agreed to work on the black leaders’ agenda, which includes addressing low-performing schools and gaps in educational achievement, job programs for urban areas and assisting minority owned businesses.
The governor will speak today at an OLBC luncheon and has agreed to meet quarterly with the black lawmakers to discuss their political agendas.
[An earlier story about Governor Kasich’s racial troubles can be read here.]