Friday, September 06, 2002

Ohio to be short two congressmen this fall

Hall's pending resignation is on heels of Traficant's expulsion

By Malia Rulon
The Associated Press

        WASHINGTON - Rep. Tony Hall, D-Ohio, said Thursday he will resign from Congress next week to take a United Nations job, which would leave the state without two congressmen during expected votes on spending bills.

        In a letter sent to Ohio Gov. Bob Taft, Mr. Hall, a 12-term member of the House, said his resignation will become effective Monday. He will be sworn in at a small, private ceremony Tuesday as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations' food and agriculture agencies. A formal swearing-in ceremony with Secretary of State Colin Powell has been set for Sept. 26.

        The Senate approved Mr. Hall's nomination last month, days after fellow Democrat James Traficant, who represented the 17th District in northeast Ohio, was expelled from the House in July for accepting money and free labor in exchange for official favors.

        Two vacancies from Ohio's 21-member delegation would usually mean little as Congress typically adjourns for the November elections. But this year, lawmakers are likely to return for a post-election session to vote on spending bills.

        Mr. Taft, a Republican, has said he won't call a special election to replace either congressman because it would cost the counties about $800,000 each and could lead to voter confusion.

        Mr. Hall, who represents the 3rd District in Southwest Ohio, had said that he would resign from Congress to accept the U.N. post. He said Thursday that he doesn't think his departure will hurt the state as Congress returns to work later this year.

        “This year, we have already voted for many important pieces of legislation, so we've pretty much taken a stand on what we want to spend and what our priorities will be,” Mr. Hall said. “What remains to be done is wait for the Senate to finish their work.”

        Mr. Hall's new job is to lobby for U.S. interests at international agencies that distribute food and supplies, respond to world poverty and promote Third World development.

        “I hope to be able to raise the level of discussion and raise the whole issue of hunger to a higher level than it's been at,” Mr. Hall said. “We get bogged down in all these conferences and we need to do more things and be more proactive in the world. Let's get it done; let's start feeding the hungry people.”

        Mr. Hall, 60, is a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee who once went on a water-only fast for three weeks to protest the elimination of a House hunger committee. He also founded the Congressional Hunger Center, and in Ohio, he organized immunization programs, food banks and hunger strikes to raise money for the needy.

        Mr. Hall's former chief of staff, Rick Carne, faces former Dayton Mayor Mike Turner, a Republican, in the Nov. 5 election for the redrawn district.


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