Ann Womer Benjamin makes sense for new 17th District

Timothy J. Ryan is an engaging young man who has grown since victories in his 2000 race for the Ohio Senate and even since his surprise upset in the Democratic congressional primary this spring.
But he still hasn't grown into the shoes of a member of the Congress of the United States.
Frankly, the Mahoning Valley has not done a very good job of sending people to Congress for well over a generation. The last truly effective voice this area had in Washington was that of Michael J. Kirwan, an era that ended 32 years ago.
He was followed by Charles J. Carney, who proved to be a marginal embarrassment; Lyle Williams, who was marginally effective as a Republican trying to keep up in a Democratic world, and James A. Traficant Jr., who spent nearly 18 years in Washington telling people he was working for the little guy while he busily tried to feather his own nest.
Change is needed
It is time for a change, time for something clearly better than what we've become used to. And the only candidate who offers even a glimmer of hope for solid representation and true change is Ann Womer Benjamin.
In her four terms in the Ohio House she has sponsored 18 bills, an impressive record. In the two years Ryan has been in Columbus he has been virtually invisible.
Womer Benjamin, 49, has been a practicing lawyer for 20 years and a legislator for eight. Ryan, 29, earned a law degree, but has said he never intended to practice law and so has not taken the bar exam. He held a couple of internships during college and worked two years for Traficant before being elected to the state Senate.
If Womer Benjamin were a Democrat and lived somewhere between Youngstown and Warren, this wouldn't even be a race. But Womer Benjamin is a Republican, which automatically eliminates her from consideration by the party-line voters, and she lives in Aurora, which means to some that she can't understand the Mahoning Valley psyche or represent its interests. That's nonsense.
While she is, indeed, a Republican, she is a moderate with a strong history of support for labor and steel-making. As for geography, someone doesn't have to have grown up in the Mahoning Valley to feel its pain. She has campaigned actively in Mahoning and Trumbull counties and has made clear her commitment to the area.
Womer Benjamin is the best candidate to serve the 17th District and the Valley in Congress.

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