MOUNT VERNON – The top priority of President Joe Biden’s administration should be controlling COVID-19, the chair of the Knox County Democratic Party told the Mount Vernon News.
“The sooner it’s under control, the sooner businesses can get back to normal, schools can function normally and homes can be stable,” Meg Galipault said.
Late last year during the transition period between presidents, there was a period when nothing was being done, she said.
“We’re suffering the consequences of that now,” Galipault said. “It’s going to take time for us to see improvement because of the lag.”
She believes the Biden administration will do a much better job managing the crisis than the previous administration.
The next priority should be legislation to address the climate crisis, Galipault said.
“That could have a significant benefit to Knox County and Ohio overall,” she said. “We are already seeing the effects of climate change. One of the reasons Siemens is no longer in Mount Vernon is because they could have invested in solar and wind energy and they didn’t. The technology they were creating was out of date.”
Siemens announced the closing of the Mount Vernon plant in 2018, a decision that resulted in the loss of approximately 400 jobs.
The trend — with or without government involvement — is renewable energy and related products, Galipault said.
“I’m hoping we’re not too late,” she said. “I think there is a lot of opportunity for us to build an economy around these renewables. You have to build things to do that. Why not build them here?”
Galipault noted that Knox County is centrally located and has a strong manufacturing base.
“This would be a good place for manufacturers and entrepreneurs to locate,” she said. “This is an opportunity for companies that are forward-looking and realize this is where we are headed.”
Losing big companies like Siemens puts an even greater burden on residents to pay for water and sewer improvements and other infrastructure projects, Galipault said. Cities like Mount Vernon have aging water systems and roadways and need federal help to rebuild them, which she hopes the new administration will provide.
“Not only does it make our communities better, it also creates jobs,” Galipault said.
She is also hopeful that former U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, the new secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, will improve the housing choice vouchers program.
“Low-income housing in Knox County is lacking,” Galipault said. “That’s a problem.”