A Republican in Congress will prove to be beneficial to the Mahoning Valley, according to the candidate.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- State Rep. Ann Womer Benjamin offers something no other candidate running for the 17th Congressional District seat has: an R at the end of her name.
"From my experience in the state Legislature, having someone in the majority representing you is an advantage," said Womer Benjamin, an Aurora Republican. "You have a seat at the table and access to leadership. It would be to the benefit of this area to have a Republican congressperson."
Unopposed in primary: Womer Benjamin, a four-term state legislator, is running unopposed in the Republican primary for the 17th Congressional District seat. There are six Democratic candidates running in that party's May 7 primary.
The new 17th District includes northeast Mahoning County, all but seven northern townships in Trumbull County, most of Portage County and a section of Summit County. Womer Benjamin lives in the new 14th Congressional District, about three miles from the 17th. State law permits Ohio residents to run for any congressional seats in the state.
Even though she does not have a primary, Womer Benjamin has made numerous trips to the Mahoning Valley to familiarize herself with the area's issues and problems.
Womer Benjamin participated Thursday in a voter registration drive at Youngstown State University and was the only congressional candidate at the Citizens' League of Greater Youngstown's annual dinner Wednesday.
The new 17th District is a Democratic-dominated region, but Womer Benjamin said that will not deter her efforts.
Only a label: "The labels of D or R aren't necessarily indicative of what you stand for," she said. "Based on the people I've spoken to here, their views are not that different from mine. The economy and jobs are key issues in this area and ones that I've dealt with in the state Legislature. I've accomplished a lot for my constituents."
Womer Benjamin has represented a majority of Portage County in the Ohio House for nearly eight years. During her four terms, she had 16 bills signed into law, more than any other current House member.
Womer Benjamin expects U.S. Rep. Thomas C. Sawyer of Akron to emerge as the winner of the Democratic primary.