By Jeff Gallatin
Congresswoman Betty Sutton threw down a challenge to a group of her new constituents Thursday.
Referring to the Republican maneuvering in redistricting Congressional seats, which resulted in the Westshore communities of North Olmsted, Fairview Park, Westlake, parts of Rocky River as well as Olmsted Township ending up in the 16th Congressional District, Sutton said the GOP miscalculated by giving her a strong Democratic voter base in those communities.
“How about it, western Cuyahoga County? Are you up for a challenge?” she said while addressing several Democratic club members from the aforementioned Democratic communities at a meeting of the North Olmsted Democratic Club. “They made a mistake putting all of us together.”
Sutton said the strength of those Democratic cities, coupled with her already strong base in Summit County, give her the ability to take on Republican Congressman Jim Renacci in the November election for the new district. Neither incumbent faces any opposition in the March primary.
Sutton noted the strength of the Democratic party in Cuyahoga County while also deriding Renacci’s votes against issues that would aid people in those areas.
“I’ve voted for and initiated programs which benefit people who need assistance,” she said, citing as one example her sponsorship of the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (CARS) Act, which led to the Cash for Clunkers program. She noted it saved and created more than 60,000 jobs during the second half of 2009, which in turn led to more than 32,000 new purchases in Ohio in that time frame.
“My opponent didn’t do that,” she said, with one supporter in the audience even noting the irony of Renacci owning car lots.
She also noted her support of programs to fight corrosion, which affects bridges, water and sewer systems, military equipment and other infrastructure.
“That costs our economy 400 billion a year,” she said. “That takes a lot out of our economy. We can’t afford to keep losing that.”
She said her establishment of the National Center for Education and Research on Corrosion and Materials Performance at the University of Akron will not only help combat the effects of corrosion, it also will be aiding education.
“It’s the nation’s first degree program in this area,” she said. “We will be leading the fight against this problem.”
She also noted that she has worked on trade legislation designed to aid American businesses, spur growth and fight unfair trade policies from other countries.
“We can’t afford to keep allowing those policies,” she said, noting Renacci has voted for programs that allow the unfair trade with other countries to continue.
“We need to support our workers and businesses,” she said, noting she has received backing from automotive dealers.
She also noted Renacci’s status as a millionaire and one of the richest members of Congress, saying he doesn’t understand the economic problems faced by most Americans in the last few years of a major recession.
“I’m the daughter of a boilermaker and a librarian,” she said, noting she is not a millionaire.
She also cited her work as a labor lawyer prior to becoming a member of Congress.
“I stand with the working families,” she said, “not against them.”
Noting that her father served in World War II, she said she was proud to help play a key role in passing a new GI bill that provides educational opportunities for veterans in many areas.
“We need to provide assistance for those peoplewho have so faithfully served us,” she said.