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Published: Friday, 12/1/2006

Fisher a good cabinet pick

NOW that Governor-elect Ted Strickland has tapped Lee Fisher, his lieutenant governor running mate, to be Ohio's next development director, an observation is in order: If the rest of Mr. Strickland's cabinet appointments match this one, he will have a very competent administrative team to run the state.

Just as Mr. Fisher added depth and balance to the winning Democratic ticket, so will he add experience and judgment to a key post in the Strickland Administration.

Breathing life back into Ohio's moribund economy with new industry and more jobs must be a priority of the incoming governor. Mr. Fisher, who has served as a legislator and as Ohio's attorney general and has extensive knowledge of state government, should be a big help.

We believed he was fully qualified to be governor when he ran unsuccessfully against Bob Taft in 1998, and we were pleased when Mr. Strickland coaxed him out of political retirement to run in the second spot on the ticket this year.

At one time, the post was little more than a political backwater, but that changed after 1978, when the state constitution was amended to provide for the election of both the governor and lieutenant governor from the same party. Now, five of the past seven occupants of the number two office have been given cabinet jobs over the past quarter-century.

The first was Myrl Shoemaker, who was director of the department of natural resources from 1983-85 under Gov. Richard F. Celeste. He was followed by Paul Leonard in development; Maureen O'Connor in public safety; Jennette Bradley in commerce, and the current lieutenant governor, Bruce Johnson, in development.

Two other lieutenant governors, Michael DeWine and Nancy Hollister, did not hold cabinet jobs but each was given specific duties heading various state boards and commissions.

Utilizing all the political and administrative talent available only makes sense, and Mr. Strickland will need all the expertise he can find to engineer the necessary revival of this state.

Contrary to what the public may believe, experienced hands like Lee Fisher - those who know how to make state government work and who retain a devotion to public service - are a relatively rare commodity these days.

Mr. Fisher's appointment is an exceptional leap out of the starting gate for Ted Strickland. May the remainder of his choices be as bright.

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