Ohio democratic gubernatorial hopefuls debate in Toledo

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Richard Cordray, Dennis Kucinich, Bill O'Neill and Joe Schiavoni. They're all vying for their name to be on the democratic ticket to be Ohio's next governor.

Wednesday evening, the four came together at Bowsher High School in Toledo for their first debate ahead of the state's May primary.

"The problem that we have to look for and that we have to work on is opioids," said candidate and Ohio State Sen. Joe Schiavoni. "People are dying every single day."

The state's battle against deadly drugs like heroin and fentanyl were the subject of immediate discussion.

Some of the candidates even advocated for the legalization of marijuana as one answer to the crisis griping our state.

"It will reduce heroin deaths, it will reduce usage, and it will generate $500 million to build our hospital network," said candidate Bill O'Neill.

Weeks after the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school, all four democrats also made a call for reforms to state gun laws.

"We have to tighten our gun laws and keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill, domestic abusers and make sure that they are not able to wreak havoc," said candidate Richard Cordray.

"I have called for a statewide ban on assault weapons, and communities, including Toledo in November, passed a resolution that asked the state to enact such a ban," said candidate and former Cleveland mayor Dennis Kucinich.

"We need to make sure we close the gun show loophole, [have] mental health background checks and have a national conversation about an assault weapons ban," added Schiavoni.

"You need to register [guns]," said O'Neill. "We have to regulate these. this has got to stop."

But out of all the topics addressed on the stage, the health of Lake Erie and its algae-tainted waters was a subject that really centered on Northwest Ohio.

"It is inexcusable that we've been having this problem for years," said Cordray. "And it's not only western Lake Erie, although that's so crucial to this region and it affects the drinking water."

"I want to lead the way for clean water so that we can enjoy the benefits of a good life and protect our children's health," added Kucinich.

Only one of the four candidates will emerge from the primary on May 8, 2018 and move on to the November general election.