Yesterday George Voinovich (R) Ohio announced he’ll not run again in 2010, ending a long, distinguished career as a politician. The fallout from the 2008 elections are sure to include other GOP office holders but in the case of Voinovich, I can’t help but think that wasn’t his main reason to announce his retirement.
Since I’m a liberal, I’ve disagreed with George Voinovich on many occasions, often in writing.
He’s one of the few politicians I’ve written to whose office actually read my letter and responded to specific questions I raised–a refreshing change from the form letters I got from other Ohio politicos like round mouth toad Tiberi (who lacks cultural pride to go by his name as it’s intended to be pronounced) and former Congresswoman Deb Pryce, each dependable, loyal GOP lackeys. Voinovich had the principles, conscience and wisdom to oppose his own party when it mattered to him most. He did so with passion, (like when he opposed confirmation of John Bolton as Ambassador to the United Nations) for which he was criticized by indignant GOP colleagues but praised by democrats.
As mayor of Cleveland, Mr. Voinovich came in at a tough time and did well. Cleveland had lost its former gritty luster, amid a deep economic crisis. He spearheaded a massive downtown redevelopment program the led to the National Civic League awarding Cleveland the All-America City Award three times, in 1982, 1984, and 1986, the first such awards the city had earned since 1950. He reduced unemployment and brought Cleveland back from financial default. By year’s end 1980, convention business flourished, school desegregation was peacefully underway and construction flourished. As a Kucinich fan, it was tough for me to acknowledge Voinovich’s accomplishments at the time, but as a frequent visitor to Cleveland, I couldn’t ignore them.
With Voinovich as governor, Ohio’s unemployment dropped to a 25-year low. He “expanded facilities while marketing the state through national and international trade missions. Successes included a 25-year low in unemployment, a half-million new jobs, and a number one ranking by Site Selection magazine.” He was good for Ohio and represented us better than any of his counterparts in Congress.
With so much of the GOP subletting their craniums to the religious right as they sell their souls to the devil, I’m going to miss George Voinovich. I wish him well and sincerely hope a retirement well earned. Thanks, Mr. Voinovich.