Republicans, Democrats Mourn Voinovich’s Death

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Elected officials — Republicans and Democrats alike — mourned the unexpected death  of George V. Voinovich, who died early Sunday in his sleep. He was 79.

The Cleveland Republican served as that city’s mayor and two terms  as governor of Ohio and as a U.S. senator representing the state.

In the Mahoning Valley, during his time as governor he promoted the collaboration that led to the development of the state office building, the  George V. Voinovich Government Center, downtown, one of the first steps in its   revival. And he pushed for the establishment of the Ohio Turnpike interchange that serves the General Motors Lordstown Complex in Trumbull County.

As a U.S. senator, Voinovich was considered a fiscally conservative moderate. He supported the 2009 bailout of the auto industry but opposed President Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus package, explaining it failed to provide the right stimululs.

According to published reports, Voinovich was looking forward to serving as a delegate to the Republican National Convention next month in Cleveland and on Friday delivered public remarks at Cleveland City Hall as part of Slovenian Independence Day (Watch video below).

Gov. John Kasich, a fellow Republican, said Voinovich’s love of Ohio and his hometown of Cleveland were surpassed only by his love of his family and his wife, Janet.

“He was a unifier who thought outside the box, never gave up and worked hard for the ideas he believed in up until the very end of his life,” Kasich said. “Thanks to that leadership, he saved Cleveland, governed Ohio compassionately and responsibly and was a candid voice for reason in the U.S. Senate.  I am proud to have known him and grateful for what he did for our state and nation.

Other federal, state and local politicians issued statements paying tribute to Voinovich’s service.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, said Voinovich served Ohio “with great distinction” throughout his life. “He was a consummate professional who always conducted himself with class and independent leadership. He will be missed,” he said.

Voinovich “exemplified everything good about public service,” said U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. “It was never about him, but always about helping others.  He was an independent voice who never hesitated to speak his mind.”

Portman described Voinovich as “a great friend and a true mentor,” and called him a “dedicated public servant without equal.” Portman succeeded Voinovich in the Senate.

“The city of Cleveland, the state of Ohio and the nation benefited from his extraordinary service, but he had a special place in his heart for his beloved Cleveland,” he continued. “It is not an exaggeration to say he personally saved the city from default and revived the spirit of Cleveland through sheer force of will, an unyielding work ethic and an infectious optimism.”

Signs of the Ohio Republican’s contributions to his city and state include the Voinovich innerbelt bridge, the Voinovich Bicentennial Park, the George V. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at Ohio University and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame “that would not be here but for his leadership,” Portman said.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who served as Voinovich’s lieutenant governor and alongside him when they served in the U.S. Senate, also hailed Voinovich as a friend and mentor.

“He was a man of deep religious faith, and it was that faith that guided him in his decisions. He truly lived his belief that with God, all things are possible,” he said.

“He believed that his calling was to serve others — his city, community, and country — through his work in government.  He also believed that everyone had God-given gifts, and that we all need to use our gifts to help others,” DeWine continued.

Ohio Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni, D-33 Boardman, also issued a statement mourning Voinovich, whom he called “dedicated public servant who truly did it all during his long career” at the municipal, state and federal levels. “Ohio has lost a leader who deeply loved his hometown of Cleveland and devoted his life to serving Ohio and our nation,” he said.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.