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Officials have praise for LaTourette upon his death

by ANDREW SCHUNK | TWINSBURG BULLETIN EDITOR Published: August 10, 2016 1:00 AM
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Former U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, who passed away Aug. 3 at 62 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, offered solutions rather than insults, compromise rather than intransigence during his 18 years on Capitol Hill.

"My proudest accomplishments are finding a way to fix the problem and not finding a way to blame somebody," LaTourette told the Twinsburg Bulletin in January 2013, just after leaving Ohio's 14th District Congressional seat.

"I've been a problem solver and that's how I attempted to approach the job. What caused me to leave is the fact that there is no place for that anymore. The art of compromise that people talk about fondly with Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill really doesn't exist today."

Mr. LaTourette, a former Bainbridge Township resident, passed away at his home in McLean, Va., surrounded by family. He leaves behind his wife, Jennifer, and six children, including State Rep. Sarah LaTourette.

Aurora Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin is saddened by LaTourette's death.

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"He was formidable, well-known and practical," she said. "As a former county prosecutor, he valued the difference between right and wrong. As a longtime Northeast Ohioan, he fought for our region.

"I enjoyed getting to know him as an elected official, and especially when I ran for Congress in 2002.

"Now Aurora and I are privileged to have his daughter, Sarah LaTourette Kayser, as our state representative with the same commitment and common sense in Columbus.°I feel a deep loss of leadership with Steve LaTourette's passing."

The former Lake County prosecutor served as representative for Ohio's 19th U.S. congressional district from 1995 to 2000 before being elected to the newly-drawn 14th district in 2002, representing Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties, and portions of Portage, Summit, Trumbull and Cuyahoga counties.

IT WAS during Mr. LaTourette's tenure that a satellite office for Ohio's 14th District was established at Twinsburg Government Center on Ravenna Road. That office started with humbler beginnings in the Old School on Route 91.

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"This is just sad news for entire community and region," said former Twinsburg Mayor Katherine Procop.

"Steve was a wonderful leader who worked with both sides of the aisle. He was a good friend to Twinsburg, always working to bring support back to our region. I hold him in such high regard."

Congressman David Joyce, who succeeded LaTourette as Lake County prosecutor, also followed his friend of 30 years as Ohio's 14th District representative.

"Obviously, they are big shoes to fill," Joyce said. "He was a tremendous congressman and a good friend.

"We started off as prosecutors, and as public defenders before that, which I always thought gave us a better idea of how the world operated.

"He was a rock solid guy. To lose him and [former Ohio governor and senator] George Voinovich this year has been tough. The good ones always go to soon."

"Steve LaTourette was a good man who was always willing to reach across the aisle to do right by the working men and women of northeast Ohio," Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said Aug. 3.

"Connie [Schultz, Brown's wife] and I send our deepest sympathies to his family as they mourn his loss."

Mr. LaTourette established a reputation as a centrist Republican, a hard-working representative who put partisan differences aside.

He obtained federal money for major revisions to Route 8 and the replacement of roads and bridges in Ohio's 14th District.

And while President Obama's auto bailout package may have assisted auto workers in other areas of the country, it did not help the workers of UAW Local 122 in Twinsburg, who saw the Chrysler Stamping Plant shuttered in May 2009.

THEN-REP. LaTou-rette, along with Sen. Brown, worked hard to make sure those workers were represented inside the Beltway.

"We are grateful to you and your administration for the leadership demonstrated," LaTourette wrote in an open letter to President Obama in May 2009 in the Bulletin.

"However, decisions being made by the Auto Task Force and in bankruptcy proceedings are more than troubling. You indicated '[the bankruptcy filing] will not disrupt the lives of the people who work at Chrysler or live in communities that depend on it.'

"While we know that was your intention, events following your announcement have made that impossible."

When 47 Chrysler and 79 GM dealerships in Ohio were shut down by those automakers following the 2008-09 recession as part of bankruptcy filings and restructurings, LaTourette worked to give those dealerships the right to appeal their closures to a third party.

LaTourette moved on to the private sector more than three years ago to become president of McDonald-Hopkins Government Strategies, a subsidiary of McDonald-Hopkins law firm.

He has said his fondest memories included working closely with mayors and city officials in the 14th District.

Known for his dry wit and irreverent humor, Mr. LaTourette knew politics "was a contact sport. "You accept that you're going to have disagreements with people and people are going to be political," he said.

"What drove me out the door was that people basically want to fight about everything. If an idea was thought up by a Democrat and you're a Republican, you have to say it's a horrible idea and vice versa.

"It limited my ability to be an effective problem solver because nobody was interested in solving problems."

Email: aschunk@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4172

Twitter: @twinsburgohio

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