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Published: Sunday, 10/31/2004

New blood for Congress

When the people's representatives in Washington have lost touch with their constituents, it's time to send replacements who won't forget where they came from. Voters in northwest Ohio can exercise this privilege of democracy on Tuesday by choosing new blood for Congress: Ben Konop in the 4th Congressional District and Robin Weirauch in the 5th District.

As we noted four weeks ago, election of these capable political newcomers would give area residents something they haven't had in years: members of Congress who actually live in northwest Ohio and are in touch with what's going on locally.

Moreover, Mr. Konop, a lawyer who lives in Ada, Ohio, and Ms. Weirauch, assistant director of the Center for Policy Analysis and Public Service at Bowling Green State University, have campaigned with vigor and look forward to representing the people they've come to know over the past year.

As has been amply documented, the incumbents, Rep. Michael G. Oxley in the 4th District and Rep. Paul Gillmor in the 5th, talk a good game but have little respect for their constituents. Mr. Oxley maintains a nominal address in Findlay but really lives in McLean, Va., an upscale suburb of Washington, D.C. Mr. Gillmor, lives in Dublin, a Columbus suburb.

In each case, northwest Ohioans rarely see these two men, except, of course, in the election season. In Washington, both Mr. Oxley and Mr. Gillmor dutifully cater to the interests of big business - interests that are frequently out of whack with the real concerns of ordinary people. Is it any wonder average Americans feel divorced from their elected representatives?

The 4th District, where Mr. Oxley has been entrenched for 23 years, covers a gerrymandered portion of the state extending from Hancock County in the north to Champaign County in the south and Mansfield in the east.

The 5th District, which Mr. Gillmor has claimed for 16 years, includes a triangular chunk of extreme southwestern Lucas County, Wood County, and the northwest corner of the state from the Michigan and Indiana lines as far east as Ashland County.

This is the heart of rural and small-town America, and it would be a mistake to assume that Mr. Konop and Ms. Weirauch, both Democrats, face anything but an extremely tough fight.

But that is not to say they can't win.

If the voters of northwest Ohio really care about what's going on in Washington and how it affects them, they will unite to end years of absentee representation and send Ben Konop and Robin Weirauch to Congress.



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