Thursday, June 13, 2002

Tony Fischer

An early look at a politician

        I am waiting for my date — breakfast at First Watch in Norwood. I'm early, so I have a chance to check the room. Several somebodies are pitching for support, looking for funding or maybe just ideas and votes. Projects. Campaigns. Events. A lot of them begin at places like this, over a bagel or muffin or mondo egg-o-rama.

        I've asked for the meeting to see what draws a newcomer to politics these days. And what draws him back to Cincinnati. Among the nearly consistently bad news for our community coming out of the last census is a 13 percent drop in the number of people ages 25-34.

        Tony Fischer and I have never met, but I know he's 24 years old and blondish. An unusual number of diners this morning fit that description. They appear slightly alarmed at my interest. Maybe they think I was sent by their mother to spy.

        Tony arrives, right on time, and ambles over to my table — a young man who knows where he's going, but doesn't make a big production about it. He is running for the Ohio Senate seat vacated by Richard Finan, who was term-limited out of office. The young candidate does not see himself as a Democratic sacrificial lamb in the predominantly-Republican 7th District. He sees himself as a publicly educated citizen who comes from a place “that's special but not everything it could be.”

        I give him extra points because he does not say he wants “to make a difference” and “give something back.” He thinks government is “fun.” At school, he e-mailed friends to “toss around ideas.” Somebody would go on a road trip — maybe to Boston, maybe to Barcelona — and see something to bring back home. Not a beer mug. An idea.

        A graduate of Walnut Hills High School and Georgetown University, Tony says transportation and schools are his issues. He has driven his 1986 Chevy Nova around “my district,” which sprawls over Warren County and spills into Cincinnati's east-side neighborhoods including his own Mount Lookout.

        Our conversation is interrupted by a table-hopping heavy-hitter. Tony inks the name on his hand, a gesture at once youthful and savvy. He'll learn to carry paper. He already knows what to write down.

        Tony ran unopposed in the May primary and will be up against former state Rep. Robert Schuler in November. In the Enquirer's annual report card on area legislators, Rep. Schuler was said to be intelligent and low-key.

        Tony is intelligent and keyed up, impatient. He has ideas about moving people around: in from the suburbs to the exurbs to the inner city. He has a plan for school boards to be entrepreneurial. He has energy and — as was his custom as a student — he has done his homework.

        His campaign officially starts Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the Carnegie Center of Columbia Tusculum, 3738 Eastern Ave. The candidate will seek support. He's young — that's for sure. And maybe seeking public office at the age of 24 is a little early.

        Or maybe he's right on time.

       E-mail Laura at or call 768-8393.


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