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Published: Sunday, 10/31/2004

Congress: Area voters to pick 5 representatives

BY TAD VEZNER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Five congressional seats in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan will be up for grabs in Tuesday's election.

Ohio's 4th Congressional District is being defended by 11-term veteran Rep. Mike Oxley (R., Findlay). He faces challenger Ben Konop, an Ada Democrat.

Mr. Oxley, 60, chairs the House Financial Services Committee, the legislative body that oversees banks, insurance companies, and Wall Street. In 2002, Mr. Oxley was the co-author of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which was designed to respond to corporate scandals by offering new investor protections. He highlights his votes to lower taxes and get funding for farmers, research, and homeland security. If re-elected, Mr. Oxley said he will focus on issues relating to jobs, health care, and prescription drugs.

Mr. Konop, 28, has worked as an attorney for a Washington law firm, as a page in the House of Representatives, and in the office of Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo).

His campaign, he said, is based on fighting for jobs and health-care policies that benefit people of low and moderate incomes. He charges that Mr. Oxley is so beholden to special interests and corporations that he is working for them and not for the residents of the 4th District.

Ohio's 9th Congressional District pits Miss Kaptur (D., Toledo), a 22-year House veteran, against Lucas County Auditor Larry Kaczala (R., Toledo).

Miss Kaptur, 58, a lifetime Toledo resident, was first elected to the House in 1982. She is now the most senior Democratic woman in Congress and sits on the Appropriations Committee.

She is most proud of her recent work on the I-280 Maumee River Crossing bridge project, the expansion of the Toledo Farmers Market, the dedication of the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, and the National World War II Memorial in Washington. She is a vocal opponent of the North American Free Trade Agreement and says her objectives would be focused on bringing new jobs to the district and keeping the existing ones.

Mr. Kaczala, 47, also a lifetime Toledo resident, said that if elected, he would make it his priority to focus on creating jobs and reversing the trend that has given northwest Ohio the highest unemployment rate in the state. Another major theme of Mr. Kaczala's campaign is the elimination of federal waste and fraud.

Mr. Kaczala has served for more than 10 years as the county auditor, and was a past president of the County Auditors' Association of Ohio.

He said he identifies with the Republican Party because of its stances against large government and abortion.

In Ohio's 5th Congressional District, eight-term Rep. Paul Gillmor (R., Old Fort) will be taking on Democratic challenger Robin Weirauch of Napoleon.

Mr. Gillmor, 65, serves on the House Committees on Energy and Commerce and Financial Services. Prior to his election to Congress, Mr. Gillmor served in the Ohio Senate for 22 years and attained the rank of captain in the Air Force.

In 2002, he sponsored the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act.

Ms. Weirauch, 47, is the assistant director of Bowling Green State University's Center for Policy Analysis and Public Service.

The fight for Michigan's 15th District will be between Rep. John Dingell, the most senior member of the House who is in his 25th race, and political neophyte Dawn Reamer.

Ms. Reamer, a New Boston Republican, is a 29-year-old Huron Township attorney. She has never held an elected office.

If elected, Ms. Reamer said she would work to create more fiscal responsibility in government and tighten immigration requirements in the interests of national security.

The 78-year-old Mr. Dingell (D., Dearborn) has been a vocal opponent of President Bush and his agenda. A member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which he used to chair, Mr. Dingell said he is particularly troubled by attacks on Medicare and Social Security and will continue his efforts on behalf of seniors to protect those programs and to fight for a stronger prescription drug program.

Michigan's 7th District Congressional seat is being vacated by Rep. Nick Smith (R., Addison) after 12 years in office. Physician and former state Sen. Joe Schwarz (R., Battle Creek) is battling against organic farmer Sharon Marie Renier, a Democrat from Munith, for the position.

Dr. Schwarz, 66, said during his primary battles that the real issues for him are those relating to health care, jobs, national security, and education.

Dr. Schwarz chaired Arizona Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign in Michigan four years ago and is a former CIA operative.

Ms. Renier, 48, emphasized education, health care, and civil rights in her primary campaign.

A single mother of one son, she said during her primary battles that she hopes to break through the "glass ceiling" in politics evidenced by the small number of women who serve in Congress. She has championed feminist issues and worked as a paralegal for the Chrysler Corp.

Contact Tad Vezner at:

tvezner@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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