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MAHONING VALLEY Boccieri rethinks state Senate race



Published: Fri, January 25, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The state representative is concerned his district will fall into the hands of a Republican if he does not seek re-election.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- State Rep. John Boccieri is having second thoughts about running for state Senate now that Mahoning County Recorder Ronald V. Gerberry, a former longtime Ohio House member, has declared his candidacy.

Boccieri, a New Middletown Democrat, said he is rethinking his potential candidacy because he believes his Ohio House seat would end up in the hands of a Republican, possibly from outside the Mahoning Valley, if he did not seek re-election.

He added that if either he or Gerberry runs, a Democrat would win the seat.

"I know I can beat Ron in a race, but what's the greater good for the Mahoning Valley?" said Boccieri, who met Thursday with Gerberry to discuss the state Senate race. "Someone has to acquiesce. We have to put our political egos aside."

District altered: A state redistricting plan of the Ohio House, which goes into effect next year, severely alters Boccieri's district. Mahoning County is no longer the largest county in his district, replaced by Stark County.

The new district includes 19,000 fewer Mahoning County voters than the current one, and the percentage of Democratic voters in the new district is 51 percent, 6 percent less than the current district, Boccieri said.

Boccieri had said Wednesday that he was 100 percent sure he was running for the Senate. A day later, after hearing that there are Republicans lining up to run for the seat and that Gerberry is officially in the Senate race, Boccieri is reconsidering his original plan. The Senate seat is being vacated by Robert F. Hagan, a Youngstown Democrat who is running for Congress.

Boccieri will have a final decision on his political future next week.

Touts experience: Gerberry said his political experience, including 19 years in the Ohio House, makes him uniquely qualified for the Senate seat. Gerberry said he has the ability to work with members of both political parties and accomplished much during his years in the House, including passing 32 bills.

"It is only through years of serving with legislators that one gets to know how they make their decisions and why, and upon those they can trust," Gerberry said. "Nothing can replace that kind of experience."

When asked about Boccieri as a potential primary candidate, Gerberry said, "I suggest you look at my r & eacute;sum & eacute;. My relationships in Columbus don't go back one year." Boccieri is a freshman legislator who took office last year.

Gerberry said that he had every intention of finishing his four-year term as recorder, which began last year but that he could not pass up this opportunity.

Mahoning County Commissioner Ed Reese said he has not ruled out running for state Senate but is leaning toward not seeking the office.

skolnick@vindy.com




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