While we are unstinting in our support of state Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry’s re-election bid, we are impressed with his challenger, Kimberly S. Poma, a member of the Boardman school board.
In a region that is predominantly Democratic, Republican Poma is a public official who does the area proud. Unfortunately, she’s in the wrong race.
With her strong base of support in Boardman, where she has owned a business and has a long history of community service, Poma could have been a strong county-wide candidate. She might even have made a county commissioner race interesting. Unfortunately, she received bad advice fromthe county Republican Party and the Republican legislative caucus in Columbus. They urged her to run, but have not given her the financial support necessary to conduct an aggressive campaign in the 59th House District that includes Boardman.
It is revealing that the worst Poma will say about Gerberry, who makes no apologies for being a long-time officeholder, is that he has become complacent after holding elected office for 38 years. But Gerberry, who has served as a member of the Austintown Board of Education, state representative, county recorder and now again state representative, vehemently disagrees that he has slowed down or is taking his responsibilities for granted.
An objective review of his legislative record and his direct involvement in such crucial issues as state funding for public education and local governments leaves no doubt that he is truly committed to serving his constituents.
The current 59th District, created by Republicans in Columbus that sought to give the GOP an election advantage wherever possible, may pose a challenge to Gerberry, a resident of Austintown. In the redistricting, all but four precincts in Austintown were taken away from the new district. It now encompasses Beaver, Berlin, Boardman, Canfield, Ellsworth, Goshen, Green, Jackson, Milton, Poland, Smith and Springfield townships, the city of Canfield and the villages of Beloit, Craig Beach, New Middletown and Sebring.
Gerberry insists his record in Columbus reflects a willingness to work on behalf of communities in the Mahoning Valley that are not always in his district. A Vindicator news story last week detailed the myriad initiatives that the state representative launched on behalf on the region.
Pressed by The Vindicator’s editorial board to specify how she thinks Gerberry has failed his constituents, Poma replied, “I don’t know [Gerberry] has fought hard enough for schools.” We wish she had chosen something else, given that when the Democrats were in control of the House Gerberry served as chairman of the Education Committee and now, as a minority member of the committee, he has been vocally opposed to any attempt by the state to cut funding for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Despite his efforts to stop the General Assembly and the governor from stripping funding for public education, the Republicans in power have ridden roughshod over school districts.
To her credit, Poma, who has seen first-hand what is happening to an excellent school district like Boardman as it struggles to make ends meet, is willing to criticize her party’s willingness to take money away from top performing districts and funnel it into charter schools that aren’t performing up to standard.
Gerberry’s legislative record, especially after the 2010 election when Republicans won all statewide offices, shows that his experience and knowledge of how things work in the General Assembly are a definite plus.
The Vindicator endorses his bid for another term, but also urges Poma to stay involved in politics.