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17TH DISTRICT Debate covers variety of views



Published: Tue, April 30, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Five Democrats talked about Traficant, economic development and their top priorities.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Democratic candidates for the 17th Congressional District agree they all want to make an immediate impact. The difference is in how.

State Rep. Anthony A. Latell Jr. of Girard wants to pass legislation to ensure that workers at large companies that go out of business, such as LTV, are guaranteed their pensions and medical coverage and the money they paid into those programs is not spent by their employers.

Atty. Maridee Costanzo of Warren wants to make sure people can obtain needed prescription drugs without being gouged by large pharmaceutical companies.

Joe Louis Teague of Youngstown, a retired laborer, wants to pass legislation to help people who have been exposed to asbestos.

U.S. Rep. Thomas C. Sawyer of Akron wants to pass legislation offering prescription drug coverage to senior citizens.

State Sen. Timothy J. Ryan of Niles wants to protect the retirement and health benefits of steel workers and control prescription drug costs.

About the event

They discussed their views during a debate Monday in the Jewish Community Center, sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation and the Northside Citizens' Coalition. More than 150 people attended.

This was the last time the candidates debated, prompting a "thank God" quip from Ryan, before the May 7 primary.

The candidates were asked what the House of Representatives should do about U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant, the Poland Democrat convicted earlier this month on 10 felony counts including racketeering and bribery. The House ethics committee is conducting an investigation that could result in his expulsion.

Costanzo said Traficant is a "nonentity."

Sawyer, a former House ethics committee member, said that committee must be given the time to investigate Traficant and after that, bring its recommendation to the full House for an expulsion vote.

Teague said Traficant deserves to go through the appeals process.

Ryan said Traficant will be thrown out of Congress, and follow through on his plans to run as an independent. If Traficant runs in November, he will grab a percentage of votes away from the Democratic nominee and it could mean state Rep. Ann Womer Benjamin of Aurora, the Republican nominee, would win the seat.

Latell said Traficant did some great things while in office, but the conviction permanently tainted him. He doubts if Traficant will be able to run because he probably will be in prison.

Economic development

Regarding economic development, Sawyer said the Valley must improve its image and concentrate its efforts on the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.

Teague said one of his prime concerns is bringing jobs back to the United States.

Ryan wants to have the universities in the new 17th District work together and with business incubators.

Latell also said the area has to improve its image and provide incentives to local companies to stay here.

Costanzo wants to open Medicare facilities in the district and concentrate on metallurgy technology at Youngstown State University.

skolnick@vindy.com




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