Ted Strickland has brought a touch of class to the hotly contested race for Ohio governor, and in so doing has put the much-maligned Mahoning Valley in a positive light. It has been ages since this region could lay claim to an individual occupying a high position of power, which is why the 6th District Democratic congressman deserves a strong vote from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties on Nov. 7.
Barring a political collapse of historic proportions, Strickland should emerge victorious when the votes are counted election night. His Republican challenger, J. Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio's secretary of state, has been unable to mount the kind of campaign that would make the race a toss-up, and, in desperation, has resorted to gutter tactics.
Fortunately, a majority of the people of Ohio have rejected such sleazy politics.
But even when confronted with insinuations about his sexuality, Strickland, a psychologist by profession and an ordained minister, has refused to be dragged into the mud. He has disarmed Blackwell with comments such as, "That isn't very nice, Mr. Blackwell."
But the Lisbon resident is no pushover. He certainly won't let anyone talk him out of pursuing the agenda he has laid out in detail to revive Ohio's economy, stem the exodus of educated young people and aggressively seek a solution to the unconstitutional system of funding public education.
Strickland's "Turnaround Ohio" aims to create and keep jobs by investing in the state's strengths, such as energy production and entrepreneurship. In addition, he intends to develop initiatives that would being "jobs of the future" to this state.
Strickland says the Third Frontier high technology initiative launched by Gov. Bob Taft is an important step in making this state a player in the highly competitive global economy, and he is committed to ensuring that the Mahoning Valley gets its fair share of research and development dollars.
The congressman has embraced the expansion of the Youngstown Business Incubator and the development of the Youngstown Technology Center, which is under construction, as top priorities.
While Strickland's ties to the Mahoning Valley worked in his favor when we evaluated the candidates in the governor's race, we gave Blackwell every opportunity to make the case for his candidacy. Unfortunately, he chose not to participate in the final editorial board interview for this election.
By contrast, independent candidate Bill Peirce, professor emeritus of economics at Case Western Reserve University, met with us and did a commendable job of delivering his Libertarian message.
The Vindicator endorses Strickland confident that Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties will be on the new governor's radar screen.