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OHIO HOUSE 65TH DISTRICT Two vie with newcomer



Published: Mon, April 29, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Experience is not a necessary qualification in the race.

WARREN -- The 65th Ohio House Democratic primary race pits two long-time Trumbull County politicians against each other with political newcomer Sandra Stabile Harwood.

"What are the choices that we are going to have if I'm not in the race?" asked Harwood, a lawyer for the Trumbull County Child Support Enforcement Agency.

The choices are Joseph Melfi, former Girard mayor, and Barry Profato, a former Niles councilman.

"If we are looking at experience, if we are looking at who can go to Columbus and act rather than react, Joe Melfi is your man," said Melfi, whose brother, James, is mayor of Girard.

"This is my turn," said Melfi, who is administrative assistant to the Trumbull County auditor. "I am the most qualified candidate in the election."

Sees advantage

Profato disputes that.

"I have been a legislator. That gives me an advantage," he said, referring to his years on Niles City Council. "I am accomplished in sales and marketing, and that gives me a very strong understanding of the needs of businesses, churches and civic groups."

Profato, who at 55 is seven years younger than Melfi, says he appeals to voters in their 20s and 30s who are looking for somebody to represent them.

"I engender a whole spectrum of voters because I ask them what they want," he said. "I'll be the most accessible district rep in the history of Trumbull County."

Less is more

While her opponents tout their experience, Harwood says her lack of political experience will help her win election.

"They are professional politicians and I am not," said Harwood, 51. "I'm just a person who worked her way through law school and raised a family."

"I want to do something that will put me in a position to effect change," she said.

The campaign has shaped up more around personality than issues, but the candidates all say they are concerned about the state budget deficit, projected to be more than $1.2 billion by next year.

Profato said he would like to explore putting a charge on telephone bills to raise revenue. He also said he would support regulating "instant bingo" gambling so it doesn't divert money from the state lottery.

Cutting costs

Melfi says the state could cut costs by reducing lottery advertising and cutting administrative costs at state agencies.

Despite the projected shortfall in revenue, Melfi said he wants to explore reducing taxes companies pay on equipment and inventory.

Harwood said she would like the Legislature to find a way to tax goods and services bought over the Internet. She thinks that costs could be cut at state agencies and that perhaps the federal government could be persuaded to take on the expense of a new prescription-drug plan for senior citizens.




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