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Gil Blair should keep 63rd district seat in Statehouse

It was less than a month after former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder was arrested and eventually removed from his speakership when newly appointed local lawmaker Gil Blair of Weathersfield co-sponsored legislation to face the issue of public corruption head on.

Householder’s charges allege his involvement in a $60 million bribery scheme linked to a controversial law, House Bill 6, passed last year to bail out two Ohio nuclear plants. While state legislators voted to remove him from his speaker post, he remains in the Legislature, still representing his constituents in central Ohio while his case is pending.

If passed, Blair’s public corruption bill would prohibit anyone elected while under felony indictment for public corruption to serve in the state Legislature. The bill also would require state lawmakers to reimburse Ohio for any compensation received following a conviction for public corruption felonies.

Householder, R-Glenford, has refused to resign his seat and is seeking re-election in November.

Blair, 50, a Democrat, was appointed to represent Ohio’s 63rd House district last year after former Rep. Glenn Holmes resigned. The district covers a large swath of Trumbull County, including all or parts of Bazetta, Brookfield, Cortland, Girard, Fowler, Hartford, Vernon, Hubbard city, Hubbard Township, Liberty, Lordstown, McDonald, Newton Falls, Newton Township, Niles, Vienna and Weathersfield.

We applaud Blair’s quick decision to co-sponsor the legislation on this controversial issue and hot topic — particularly as a brand new representative.

His aggressive response is a good indication of what Blair might do in Columbus if he is retained.

It’s that attitude that helped trigger our decision to endorse Blair.

Blair is facing a challenge from a political newcomer, Mike Loychik of Bazetta.

Loychik, 31, a Republican, served in the U.S. Air Force for seven years. He is a small business owner, operating Atlantic Pressure Washing Solutions LLC.

During his short time in office, Blair already has begun efforts to assist local communities in their economic development efforts.

Blair said he is working to divide his district into small geographic areas, with which he will work to target their needs. He especially is focused on agriculture and said he has been working on a project that could help bring a meat processing plant to eastern Trumbull County.

Blair also is focused on needed infrastructure, bringing more high-speed internet to our region and a framework for growing all technologies.

A former Warren Municipal Court prosecutor, Blair says he is pro-law enforcement and also an advocate of the Second Amendment. He noted that he serves as Democratic chairman of the House Sportsmen’s Caucus and is an avid hunter.

Loychik lists his top priorities, if elected, as school safety, improving infrastructure, and protecting and training first responders.

Loychik chose not to participate in a candidate interview involved in our endorsement process.

We like Blair’s attitude and work ethic. We believe he has started good work in Columbus in a very brief time, and he deserves a full term to further develop his ideas.

We endorse Gil Blair for the 63rd Statehouse seat.

editorial@tribtoday.com

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