State legislators concerned about impact on Valley
By David Skolnick
State Rep. Robert F. Hagan said he’s concerned that the incoming Republican administration, led by Gov.-elect John Kasich, will do little to nothing to help the Mahoning Valley.
“I’m looking at this administration ignoring this area,” said Hagan, of Youngstown, D-60th, re-elected Tuesday to a two-year term in the Ohio House. “We’re not going to see a whole lot of John Kasich in the Valley or helping our Valley.”
Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat who lost his re-election bid Tuesday to Kasich, was a frequent Valley visitor, coming here considerably more times than his two predecessors, Bob Taft and George V. Voinovich, both Republicans. Before being elected governor, Strickland represented portions of the Valley in Congress for four years.
Also, Democrats lost enough seats Tuesday to give the majority of the Ohio House back to the Republicans.
“They’ll have to figure out how to balance the budget” projected to have an $8 billion deficit, Hagan added.
State Rep. Tom Letson of Warren, D-64th, also re-elected Tuesday, said he’s not concerned the Valley will be forgotten, however.
“The fastest-growing area for manufacturing jobs is Northeast Ohio, and our Valley has been a real part of that,” Letson said. “I don’t think we’ll be ignored simply because a lot of people here are Democrats.”
State Rep. Ronald Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th, also re-elected Tuesday, said, “I don’t think any governor intentionally ignores any specific part of the state.”
Kasich will be the sixth governor to serve with Gerberry in the Ohio House.
“Do I believe Ted Strickland showed more interest in the Mahoning Valley? Yes, I do. I truly do,” Gerberry said. “But that’s not to say any governor is going to ignore any region.”
Gerberry and Letson said they have worked well with Republicans while serving in the majority and the minority of the Ohio House.
State Rep.-elect Craig Newbold, a Republican from Columbiana who beat incumbent Linda Bolon, a Democrat from Columbiana, said he believes Kasich will pay attention to the Valley if “we position ourselves properly. There are possibilities in the areas of technology and education.”
Newbold said he hopes he and local Democratic state legislators “can find common objectives and work together for the betterment of the area.”
This area “will be hurt badly. [Kasich] will ignore us,” Bolon said.
Though Gerberry said he expects cooperation from Republicans in the House, Hagan sees it differently.
“It will be so difficult for me, Ron Gerberry or [state Sen.] Joe Schiavoni to deliver anything,” Hagan said. “I just don’t see us being successful. The tools [to be successful] are gone. The opportunities are gone.”