U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) has always serviced the 9th District out of one district office in Toledo. That’s about to change.
With Cuyahoga County residents now outnumbering Lucas County residents in the district, Miss Kaptur is shopping for office space in Lakewood and other areas in Cuyahoga County, to serve the part of the district that also overlaps West Cleveland, Parma, and Berea.
Steve Katich, chief of staff for Miss Kaptur, said she is relocating positions from Washington to the district, and from Toledo to Cuyahoga County. Miss Kaptur now has 10 staffers in Washington and seven in Ohio. Under the new arrangement, which is tentative, she will have four full-time staff in Toledo and four full-time at the Cleveland-area office.
In addition, there will be two part-time offices in Lorain and Parma that will share the equivalent of one staff member. The Lorain office is being provided by the city of Lorain in city office space.
The new 9th District, created through a Republican-controlled process, stretches nearly 100 miles from around Reynolds Road in West Toledo nearly to downtown Cleveland. Miss Kaptur defeated then-U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D., Cleveland) in the 2012 Democratic primary; Mr. Kucinich tried to capitalize on being locally based.
Now, she has to prove to a region of the state that hardly knows her that she can provide constituent service.
Mr. Katich said that constituent service involves working with local governments as well as assisting constituents with problems related to Social Security, the Veterans’ Administration, the Internal Revenue Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and Railroad Retirement. The office is also seeking to organize or attend community events, such as town-hall meetings and grant workshops.
Miss Kaptur has already been busy, he said, in the eastern side of the district, which has a “big federal presence.”
“We have all new relationships to establish with public officials. A lot of what we do is interface with the local communities, governmental and nongovernmental, and how we can assist in the connectivity of the feds and the locals,” Mr. Katich said.
He said the opening of Cuyahoga offices is for official government work, not political outreach, but didn’t deny the political impact of a visible local congressman.
“It lets people know the representative they've elected truly represents them,” he said.
The Washington office, Mr. Katich said, can spare the bodies.
“The House is in session far less than it has traditionally been,” he said. “So the idea of leaving persons there to wait for Congress to come into session is not exactly a wise use of resources.”
Communications Director Steve Fought has already relocated to Lakewood, where he now lives in the first floor of a high-rise apartment building. He is renting out the house he owns in West Toledo.
The congressional offices are operating under an 8.2-percent cut imposed by the budgetary sequester, and had taken cuts totaling 11 percent in the two preceding years, according to Mr. Katich.
By comparison, U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R., Bowling Green) has three district offices with a total of five staff, including three in Bowling Green and two in Defiance, with an office in Findlay, according to Latta spokesman Laura Strange. The 5th District now covers Ohio’s northwest corner spanning Williams to Ottawa counties in the north and Mercer to Hardin in the south.
U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Urbana) has two district offices, with two staffers in Norwalk and two in Lima. One of the two in Lima is funded by the House's Wounded Warrior program, said spokesman Meghan Snyder.
Mr. Katich said urban congressional districts, even though they have the same population as rural districts, have more activity in their district offices.
Contact Tom Troy at email@example.com or 419-724-6058.