Randy Law's success as a state representative for two years from 2005 through 2006 surpasses Tom Letson's record over three terms from 2007 through 2012. It's easy, therefore, to endorse Law, a Republican, over the Democratic incumbent Letson for 64th District state representative in this year's general election. Voting begins Tuesday.
During his lone term, Law addressed the No. 1 concern in his district at that time when he helped pass a new landfill law. He also secured $100,000 for Packard Music Hall; sided with local leaders who saw the folly in an expensive Robins Theatre renovation and convinced the state legislature to transfer nearly $1 million from that project to Packard; secured a $300,000 safety grant for the City of Warren to maintain police and fire protection; helped boost state funding for Kent State University at Trumbull to more than $1 million; and enabled his district to be the only one in Ohio to receive more than one park grant - it received three.
During his lone term Law also showed an ability to cross party lines when he opposed then-Republican Gov. Bob Taft's kilowatt hour tax and Taft's objection to a cut in the furniture and fixtures tax. Law also took a cautious approach to privatizing the turnpike, saying he would not support the idea without many safeguards, including spending the money in counties that share the toll road.
Letson claims to have worked across party lines better than any other Democrat and cites how he has passed more bills than any other Democrat. Neither fact is impressive.
Letson deserves credit for a law that provides witness protection at the moment an alleged crime occurs rather than after an investigation is launched. He also deserves credit for supporting Gov. John Kasich's effort to review hundreds of tax breaks and loopholes, called ''tax expenditures'' because failing to collect is akin to spending. And he deserves credit for supporting the Clean Ohio Fund, which has helped prepare many local industrial properties for redevelopment.
But Letson made an egregious error when he blocked the Trumbull County Central and Eastern district courts merger, which was overwhelmingly supported by residents and police in both jurisdictions. He continues to stand firm on the wrong side of proposed income tax cuts, preferring instead to increase spending with oil and gas severance tax money and revenue from closing tax loopholes. He opposed the critical JobsOhio economic development program and won't even study the pros and cons of privatizing the Turnpike.
The 64th District would benefit more if voters returned Law to office.