A local defense attorney is considering a run in the 17th Congressional District.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- An incumbent congressman and a former congressman are officially in the race for the new 6th Congressional District seat.
Lyle Williams, a Lordstown Republican, made up his mind about which congressional district seat he will seek. The former three-term congressman decided on the 12-county 6th District, which includes Columbiana County and Mahoning County, except its northeastern portion. Williams lives in the 17th District and is about 1.5 miles from the 6th District. Congressmen do not have to live in the district they represent.
Williams, who filed his nominating petitions Tuesday, has spent the past two weeks visiting with key Republican officials in the new 6th District. Williams lost the 2000 Republican primary to Paul Alberty but did well in Columbiana County.
"It's a winnable seat, and I think I can win in the population centers of Mahoning, Columbiana and Jefferson counties," said Williams, who serves as executive director for a Washington, D.C., nonprofit health-care association. "I like the demographics of this area. It fits my style better."
Those three counties make up more than half of the 6th District's population.
Strickland: Also filing nominating petitions Wednesday for the 6th District was U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, a Lucasville Democrat who will be seeking his fifth term to Congress. Lou A. D'Apolito, a Boardman Democrat, is the only other person to submit nominating petitions.
"Despite the inherent challenges of this more-than-300-mile-long district, I will work to represent every community in the Sixth District, and conduct myself in a way which will make all residents of our part of Ohio proud," Strickland said.
Strickland, who has made frequent visits to the Mahoning Valley in recent weeks, starts as the best financed candidate in the race. Strickland has $577,611 in his federal campaign fund. The other candidates and potential candidates in the 6th District race have either no money in their campaign accounts or have not opened one yet.
Potential candidates include: former Columbiana County Commissioner Michael Halleck, a Salem Republican; Mahoning County Commissioner Ed Reese, a Boardman Democrat; former U.S. Rep. Frank Cremeans, a Gallipolis Republican; and Charles Brown, a Yorkville Democrat. Thursday is the filing deadline for the May 7 primary.
17th District: The race for the new 17th District seat could be getting more crowded.
Already in the race are U.S. Rep. Thomas C. Sawyer, an Akron Democrat; state Rep. Anthony A. Latell Jr., a Girard Democrat; state Sen. Timothy J. Ryan, a Warren Democrat; and John S. Keytack, a Warren Republican.
U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., a Poland Democrat and nine-term incumbent, said he plans to run for the 17th District but is not sure if it will be as a Democrat or an independent. Traficant is on trial in federal court facing charges including racketeering and bribery.
If he was to run as an independent, he would not have to file his nominating petitions until May 6, the day before the partisan primaries.
Another major local political figure considering an independent run in the 17th District is Youngstown Mayor George M. McKelvey, a Democrat. Republicans sources have confirmed reports that top local and state GOP officials are discussing an independent bid for Congress with McKelvey. The mayor could not be reached Tuesday to comment.
Also, Maridee L. Costanzo, a Warren defense attorney who is serving as WYTV's legal expert on the Traficant case, has taken out nominating petitions and is giving serious consideration to running for the 17th District seat as a Democrat. Costanzo called Latell, Ryan and Traficant "barking goats," and "career politicians."
About Traficant, Costanzo said, "That idiot has not done one thing for this Valley."
State Rep. Ann Womer-Benjamin, an Aurora Republican, is seriously thinking about entering the 17th District race and has been in frequent contact with top GOP officials in the new congressional district.
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.