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Government & Politics

Tributes for Governor, Senator and Mayor Voinovich Pour in from Democrats As Well As Republicans

photo of George Voinovich
M.L. SCHULTZE
/
WKSU

Tributes have been pouring in from both Democrats and Republicans for former Ohio governor and senator George Voinovich, who died Sunday at age 79.

The moderate Republican spent four decades in politics. In addition to two terms as governor, he served two terms as a U.S. senator. And he was mayor of the Democratic city of Cleveland for a decade.

One of Voinovich’s Republican colleagues in Washington was 18-term Stark County Congressman Ralph Regula. He says Voinovich was focused more on issues than politics.

George always did what was good for people, regardless of party.

“He was not highly partisan. George always did what was good for people, regardless of party, what was good for the community, what was good for the state.”

Regula also remembers Voinovich as a good friend who was very concerned about the health of the Great Lakes.

Still active
Although Voinovich retired from the Senate in 2010, he remained active in politics until his death.

He backed Gov. John Kasich in his run for the GOP nomination for president. In a statement Sunday, Kasich described Voinovich as a unifier.

"His love for our state and his hometown of Cleveland was only surpassed by his love for his family and his wife Janet. He was guided by two ideas: love God and love your neighbor, and by faithfully applying them throughout his life he helped Ohioans see how much they could accomplish by working together."

Democrats, too, praised him.

"He was a consummate professional who always conducted himself with class and independent leadership," said Congressman Tim Ryan of Niles.  

Voinovich also remained active in his hometown. Last Friday, he spoke at the 25th Slovenian Independence Day in Cleveland.

Former City Councilman Joe Cimperman was active in the Slovenian community along with Voinovich. Cimperman says Voinovich was a like a member of his family, and his work is still impacting the city.

Tributes for Governor, Senator and Mayor Voinovich Pour in from Democrats As Well As Republicans
Joe Cimperman on George Voinovich

“We wouldn’t be where we are today as a city without him. The foundation that he laid, the way that he changed people’s minds. The idea that the public and the private sectors both had  as much at stake, in terms of the city’s success, came from him. He was really the first mayor who tried to bridge the divides between people and not exacerbate them.”

Voinovich was born in Collinwood and continued to live in Cleveland until his death. He is the only person aside from Frank Lausche to serve as governor of Ohio, a U.S. senator from Ohio and Mayor of Cleveland.