A Long Record Of Service
He helped bail out a city's finances, served a state and a nation.
John McCain is often called a "maverick". But he isn't alone, at
least not among Republicans. And no, this isn't another blog about Sarah
George Voinovich, who announced this week he is retiring at the end of his
current term in the U.S. Senate, compares favorably to him.
In the 1960's, Voinovich, who grew up in a Democratic family in Cleveland,
decided to become a Republican. And while he may have stuck to Republican
principles, he often reached out to Democrats during his political career.
At no time was that more evident than in his years as Mayor of Cleveland.
When he took office, the city was in infrastructural, political and financial
chaos. On top of that, it was an "easy joke" for comedians. He
helped turn things around by reaching out to the heavily Democratic City
Council, often the scene of infighting (my late mother once mused that she tuned
in to the radio broadcasts of the Cleveland City Council meetings "To get
my laughs for the week".), as well as local banks which were alienated by
the previous mayor, and got the financing necessary to put the city on more
solid financial footing. Oh, yes, to paraphrase something current Ohio
Governor Ted Strickland once said, he had to raise some taxes.
He also worked to get new development in the city. Both the former Jacobs
Field (now Progressive Field) and the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame came about on
his watch. By the end of the 1980's, Cleveland was being called "the
Those accomplishments alone would be enough to hang his hat on. But Voinovich
went further, being elected overwhelmingly to the office of Ohio Governor (where
he had to face yet another financial crunch), and United States Senator, both by
large voting margins. By the way, in both elections, as well as in his
elections as Cleveland mayor, he carried the heavily-Democratic Cleveland area.
Interestingly, the Democrats who now control Ohio politics this
week acknowledged his efforts in both the Senate and in his previous offices,
including his willingness to "reach across the aisle" to get things
done. He did this although he was clearly a loyal Republican who supported
President Bush on most key issues.
Cleveland, the State of Ohio, and the nation should applaud his efforts.