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Published: Friday, 10/22/2004

For state legislature

WITH the state again facing a multibillion-dollar budget deficit, the men and women who comprise the Ohio General Assembly will be making decisions over the next two years that will profoundly affect each and every Ohioan. Chief among these will be taxes and how state spending is allocated.

Accordingly, we wish all four races for seats in the Ohio House of Representatives were to be contested on Nov. 2. The Blade believes the best interests of the public are served when all elective offices offer voters a choice at election time.

Unfortunately, the political parties can't always muster enough solid candidates. Such is the case in state House District 48, where incumbent Rep. Edna Brown, a Toledo Democrat, is unopposed in the Nov. 2 election. She had an opponent, but he dropped out some time ago.

The other three districts, however, are being vigorously contested.

OHIO HOUSE DISTRICT 46

In suburban House District 46, our choice is Mark Wagoner, a Republican from Ottawa Hills, over the Democratic candidate, Nancy Patrick Greeley, of Monclova Township. The winner will succeed Lynn Olman, of Maumee, who is leaving the legislature because of term limits to run for Lucas County commissioner.

While Mr. Wagoner's political philosophy seems to be standard-issue Republican in many respects, he is running with broader endorsements than many GOP candidates, including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce (business).

The Toledo area, which is heavy with Democrats, needs representation among the state Republican legislative majority, and we are confident that Mr. Wagoner, 33, an attorney with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick for seven years, will look after the city's vital interests.

In addition, Mr. Wagoner supports a state constitutional amendment to ban smoking in public places; Ms. Greeley does not.

OHIO HOUSE DISTRICT 47

In House District 47, we recommend the re-election of Rep. Peter Ujvagi, who has attacked his job in Columbus with gusto and managed to make a substantial impression in the House during his first term.

In addition to taking on an extraordinarily heavy load of committee assignments, the long-time Toledo community activist and Democratic city council member revels in leading the legislature (or so he says) in being ruled out of order. That's what can happen to a member of the minority party, the loyal opposition, and it's a commendable quality, especially for an outspoken state lawmaker who has Toledo's best interests at heart.

OHIO HOUSE DISTRICT 49

Likewise, Rep. Jeanine Perry should be returned to Columbus to represent District 49, which includes north and east Toledo and Oregon. Like Mr. Ujvagi, Ms. Perry is a member of the Democratic minority but she has learned how to get things done. An example: Ms. Perry cooperated with the majority on a budget bill to remove the state sales tax on cancer medication administered in a physician's office or clinic.

AREA RACES

Among contested legislative races in the area, we endorse the candidacies of two Bowling Green Republicans, Rep. Robert Latta, who represents House District 6 covering Wood County, and Sen. Randy Gardner, of Senate District 2, which includes western Lucas County, all of Wood County, and most of Ottawa County.

Both men have carried out their legislative duties in a moderate, effective fashion, and each works hard on behalf of his district and constituents.

Mr. Latta is chairman of the Criminal Justice Committee and serves on one of the House's most important committees, Ways and Means.

Introduced to politics as a child by his father, longtime Congressman Del Latta, Mr. Latta has been an effective advocate for his district.

As for Senator Gardner, Ohio may have no more dedicated elected public official. After 19 years in the legislature, first in the Assembly and now in the Senate, he has been present to vote 6,928 times in a row.

Faithful attendance does not necessarily make an effective legislator, but Mr. Gardner's leadership skills do. Though just finishing his first Senate term, he's already president pro tem, the number 2 job, and his influence on northwest Ohio's behalf in Columbus is substantial.



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