Published: Wednesday, November 8, 2006
Voters choose Letson over Law
Two Democrats won open Ohio House seats.
A Trumbull County Democrat has taken back a seat in the Ohio House of Representatives that Republican Randy Law took away two years ago.
Also, Democrats won open seat that represents portions of the Mahoning Valley.
Incumbents in three other Ohio House seats that represent the Valley were re-elected.
Democrat Tom Letson defeated Law for the 64th District House seat, in a race that was called one of the most important in Ohio. Both parties spent large amounts of money on advertising.
The race featured a war of words and campaign literature over the decision in late 2002 by the Warren Board of Health, of which Letson was a member, to renew the operating license for the Warren Recycling construction demolition and debris landfill. Law went on to advance legislation to regulate such landfills once he was elected to the Ohio House in 2004.
Campaign literature sent by Ohio Republican Party Chairman Robert Bennett attacked Letson for the vote, saying Letson is "hazardous to our health." Letson said the literature contained "outright lies" and said the board of health was following the advice of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, which had indicated the landfill was not a threat to anyone's health.
Letson said Tuesday he wonders if that strategy turned off some local voters.
"Mr. Law tried to represent this district the best way he could. I don't think it's a poor reflection on Mr. Law. Maybe [the results] are a reflection that the message the Republican Party Central Committee was sending to the area was not acceptable," Letson said. "I'm proud to go down to Columbus to represent the 64th District."
Letson said he is grateful for all of the people who have helped him.
"I think this district felt like the rest of the state that it's time for a change," said Letson, who campaigned on the need to help the middle class.
Law could not be reached late Tuesday.
Craig Bonar, Trumbull County Republican Party chairman, said it is hard to take much solace from it, but Law did get 45 percent of the vote in a district that is only 36 percent Republican. "He did a good job as representative," Bonar said, but Law got caught up in the "tidal wave" that was voter sentiment against Republicans across the state and the nation.
Law, 45, of Warren, won the seat two years ago in the traditionally Democratic district by beating the incumbent, Daniel Sferra. Letson, 54, is an attorney from Warren.
The district covers Warren, Cortland, West Farmington, and the townships of Howland, Champion, Warren, Braceville, Southington, Farmington, Johnston, Vernon, Mecca, Bristol, and parts of Mesopotamia, Fowler and Bazetta.
In Columbiana County, Democratic county Treasurer Linda Bolon easily beat Columbiana County Commissioner Jim Hoppel for the 1st House District race.
The departure of Bolon, a former state auditor with private sector experience, may affect county finances. She has been working with the county auditor and the commissioners to make as much money as possible with investments because of the repeated defeats of the sales tax.
The seat was vacated by state Rep. Chuck Blasdel, an East Liverpool Republican who vacated the seat to unsuccessfully run for the 6th Congressional District seat.
Democrat Mark Okey of Carrollton beat Republican Brant Luther of Alliance for the vacant 61st Ohio House District seat. State Rep. John Boccieri, a New Middletown Democrat, didn't seek re-election. He ran unopposed Tuesday for the 33rd Ohio Senate District seat.
Mahoning County races
The district includes Beaver, Smith, Springfield, Goshen and Green townships, and the village of Sebring and Beloit in Mahoning County.
In the 59th District, state Rep. Kenneth A. Carano, an Austintown Democrat, easily defeated Republican Kasey Shidel of Canfield.
The district consists of Berlin, Boardman, Canfield, Ellsworth, Milton, Poland, Craign Beach and most of Austintown Township.
In the 65th District House race, incumbent Sandra Stabile Harwood, 56, a Niles lawyer, outpolled former Lordstown mayor and retired Delphi Packard employee Arno Hill, 53.
"I'm really looking forward to working with Ted Strickland, and now I hope we will finally be able to do the work of the people and get to work on health-care reform," Harwood said.
Hill said problems with the Republican Party in Ohio and nationwide hurt his campaign.
"Hey, I guess the valley will be the same way it's been for 30 years and lag the rest of the state," Hill said. "I guess people must be happy with one-party domination," he added.
The district covers Niles, Hubbard, Girard, Newton Falls, McDonald, Lordstown, Orangevillle and the townships of Brookfield, Hartford, Hubbard, Liberty, Newton, Vienna and Weathersfield, and parts of Bazetta and Fowler.
In the race for the 99th House race between Willliam Pikor, 55, of Thompson, and incumbent George Distel, 54, of Conneaut, Distel had a large lead and appeared to be the winner. The district takes in parts of the northern tier of Trumbull County townships: Bloomfield, Greene, Gustavus, Kinsman and part of Mesopotamia. It also includes Ashtabula County.