NORTHWEST Ohio's political landscape became a little bleaker last week with the announcement that state Sen. Mark Wagoner (R., Ottawa Hills) will step down as majority whip and not seek re-election in 2012.
Elected to represent Ohio House District 46 in 2004 and 2006, Mr. Wagoner was appointed in 2008 to Randy Gardner's District 2 state Senate seat as part of the political dominoes set in motion following the death of U.S. Rep. Paul Gillmor. He was elected to a full term later that year, and quickly selected by his colleagues as majority whip, the fourth-highest position in the Senate.
During his time in the General Assembly he has earned respect from both sides of the aisle, championing such causes as the statewide smoking ban, the merger of the University of Toledo with the former Medical University of Ohio, and the Great Lakes Compact.
His independence was on display last month when he bravely crossed party lines to cast the deciding vote to put off an income-tax cut to help close the state's $851 million deficit, then blasted Democrats and Republicans alike for putting politics above solving the state's budget woes.
Now, at the tender political age of 38, he's going home, at least for the moment. While not ruling out a future run - his name has been bandied about as a potential candidate for both lieutenant governor and state auditor - Mr. Wagoner says he won't be seeking elected office this year.
Instead, he's becoming a partner in the Toledo law office of Shumaker, Loop, & Kendrick, where he's worked for a decade, so he'll be home more often for his wife and two small children and, frankly, make more money.
It's tough to argue with the call of family, even when it means his District 2 family loses in the bargain. We wish him well and look for his swift return to public life.