The congressman says the Mahoning County treasurer will be his 'right-hand man.'
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
BOARDMAN -- Mahoning County Treasurer John Reardon apparently lives by the motto: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."
Reardon, a Boardman Democrat, not only chose not to seek the 6th Congressional District seat, but he endorsed U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, a Lucasville Democrat, for the position.
Reardon said he does not believe anyone from the Mahoning Valley could defeat Strickland this year.
"Congressman Strickland is too well-thought-of in all the counties that comprise this district and too well-respected in Washington, D.C.," to be beaten, Reardon said.
The new 6th District, which goes into effect next year, includes 12 counties along the eastern border of the state, including Columbiana County and all but the northeastern portion of Mahoning County. Those two counties make up 34 percent of the district's population. Strickland is serving his fourth term in Congress.
Strickland said Reardon posed the greatest threat to his re-election effort and he is thrilled to have the county treasurer's support.
Strickland said Reardon, who introduced the congressman to Mahoning County officials Friday, will be his "right-hand man. I will come to him for counsel and advice."
Points to consider: Reardon already gave Strickland some advice:
*That the congressman promise to spend time in the Valley, something Strickland has already done even though he does not yet represent the area.
*That Strickland work closely with the 17th District congressman who will represent the northeast portion of Mahoning and all but seven northern townships in Trumbull County, to better serve the Valley. Strickland said he plans to carry through on that request.
*That he open a Mahoning County district office, preferably in Boardman. Strickland said it is premature to make plans for a district office for a seat he has not yet captured. But the congressman said it would make perfect sense for him to open a district office in the Valley.
During the past two weeks, Reardon's position on running for the 6th District has flip-flopped. When he first heard of the new district, he said it was not possible for a Valley resident to win it and he would not run for the position. Then after re-examining the district, he reconsidered and said he was leaning toward running.
But after a few conversations with Strickland, who is picking up support from some Valley politicians, Reardon reassessed.
His reasoning: The main reason for wanting to run, Reardon said, was because he believed the Valley would be best served in Congress by a local person. The state redistricting plan splits the Mahoning Valley into three districts, which could result in the area's being represented in Congress by those living outside the region. Even though Strickland doesn't live in the Valley, he will be a strong advocate for the area, Reardon said.
Reardon, who also was considering a run for state treasurer, said he is not disappointed that he will not be running this year for higher office.
"It's not a letdown," he said. "I love my job. I'm not the least bit disappointed."
Valley residents considering challenges to Strickland for the congressional seat include former Columbiana County Commissioner Michael Halleck, a Salem Republican; Paul Alberty, a Poland Republican who unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 1998 and 2000; and former U.S. Rep. Lyle Williams, a Lordstown Republican.