Colleagues Remember George Voinovich
By Elizabeth Miller
Former U-S Senator, Governor of Ohio, and Cleveland mayor George Voinovich died Sunday. He was 79. Ideastream’s Elizabeth Miller has more on Voinovich’s legacy and political style.
Over his 9 years as mayor, Voinovich led Cleveland through a tough time in its history. A moderate Cleveland Republican known for his compassion and aggressive budgeting, he took over as mayor in 1980, when the city was a financial mess. Local government had just defaulted on millions of dollars in loans – a status that Cleveland didn’t shake until 1987. Voinovich proposed budget cuts as part of the plan to stabilize the city, much to the chagrin of Democrats on Cleveland City Council like Jay Westbrook.
"There were pretty sharp clashes between Republicans and myself and other council people being more of a mind that we should perhaps raise taxes on corporations getting tax abatements," said Westbrook.
But Westbrook says Voinovich still respected Council.
"He called council members 'little mayors' – he understood the role of council people even though he never was a councilperson," said Westbrook. "He understood the role as being on in direct service to people."
Voinovich also spent his time as mayor working to rejuvenate parts of the city like Cleveland’s lakefront and improve city schools. Claire Rosacco, a former staffer for Voinovich, said she stayed with him through his tenure as mayor and governor because of his passion for public service.
"The loyalty factor I think for all of us in serving with him was off-the-charts fantastic because we knew the greater good that he wanted to achieve," said Rosaco. "He wanted to really help people."
After 2 terms as Ohio’s Governor, Voinovich was elected to the U.S. Senate. He retired from public office in 2010.