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Biography of George V. Voinovich
Career and Public Service
Born in Cleveland, Ohio on July 15, 1936, George V. Voinovich began his career in public service as Assistant Attorney General for the State of Ohio in 1963. He was a member of the Ohio House of Representatives from 1967-1971, the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Auditor from 1971-1976, and a Cuyahoga County Commissioner from 1977-1978. Voinovich served one year as Lieutenant Governor of the State of Ohio in 1979 before becoming the Mayor of the city of Cleveland, serving in that capacity for 1979-1989. He then served two terms as the 65th Governor of Ohio from 1991-1998 and became a United States Senator for Ohio in 1999. Voinovich is the 55th Senator from Ohio, the 14th to serve as both Governor and Senator. The Senate seat he occupies was once held by such famous Ohioans as John Glenn, Frank Lausche, Robert A. Taft and Salmon P. Chase.
George Voinovich graduated from Collinwood High School in Cleveland, and took degrees at the Ohio University in Athens, Ohio (BA, 1958), and the Ohio State University (JD, 1961). He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law from Ohio University in 1981 and an Honorary Doctorate of Public Administration in 1993 from the University of Findlay (Ohio).
His spouse is Janet (Allan) Voinovich of Lakewood, Ohio with whom he has had four children, George, Betsy, Peter, and Molly. Molly was the victim of a fatal traffic accident at the age of nine. The Voinovich's have six grandchildren.
As Ohio Assistant Attorney General, Voinovich headed the Trial Section of the Workman's Compensation Division, located in Cleveland. While serving as a State Representative, he introduced 85 bills which became law. He worked hard for the creation of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the banning of oil drilling in Lake Erie, and took the lead in Ohio's Senior Citizen Homestead Exemption which provided property tax relief to the elderly. During his tenure as Cuyahoga County Auditor, Voinovich undertook to overhaul Ohio's real estate taxes. As a result of instituting computer-assisted mass appraisal of residential and small commercial property he was presented the "Outstanding Public Service Award" by the National Association of County Officials. His election as a Cuyahoga County Commissioner ended 44 years of one-party control in that office. He then was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1978, serving under Governor James A. Rhodes for one year. During that time he was the first chairman of Ohio's State and Local Government Commission.
George Voinovich campaigned for and won the office of Mayor of the City of Cleveland in 1979, just as the city was on the edge of financial ruin. During his ten years in office he managed the revival of Cleveland's fortunes, becoming its longest-serving mayor. His success brought him several public distinctions. He was named one of four distinguished urban mayors in America by the National Urban Coalition. The National Journal called him "one of five local and state officials who make a difference in Washington." He was noted as one of the top three mayors in the country and named to the "All-Pro Management Team" by City and State magazine. He was elected president of the National League of Cities in 1985.
Voinovich took the year 1990 to run for and win the office of Governor that November with a record-setting 72 percent of the vote. During his two terms he focused on improving Ohio's business climate, education, social programs, and government efficiency. His initiatives for business included saving jobs as well as bringing in new and expanded facilities while marketing the state through national and international trade missions. Successes included a 25-year low in unemployment, a half-million new jobs, and a number one ranking by Site Selection magazine.
While many issues relating to education remain unsolved, Voinovich initiated several programs and saw some successes. His "Family and Children First" introduced an increased effort to improve school readiness, he promoted school vouchers and charter programs, and his "SchoolNet" program sought to place computers throughout public schools. He increased state financial support and the number of eligible children in Head Start. Student test scores also saw improvement during his administration.
Social changes were highlighted by reducing General Assistance that reduced welfare rolls by more than 362,000 people (a 55 percent drop) while increasing training programs for jobs for those same people. He also took initiatives to improve child support enforcement.
From his first day as Governor, Voinovich used techniques from his days as mayor of Cleveland to increase government efficiency. Called Quality Services through Partnership, this effort was designed to serve as a workplace quality program using Total Quality Management as a model. This program sought to empower all levels of workers, management, and citizens while reducing Ohio's budget (showing it's lowest growth rate in 30 years) yet increasing support for areas relating to children, families, and the elderly.
Voinovich also took leadership roles in regional and national organizations serving with such groups as the National Governor's Association, the Republican Governor's Association, the Midwestern Governor's Conference, and the Council of Great Lakes Governors, including serving as chairman. Through these organizations he lead efforts to oppose unfunded mandates, improve social programs, improve environmental conditions, and increase the region's competitiveness. For these and his earlier mentioned successes he was named "Public Official of the Year" by Governing magazine in 1995.
George Voinovich took his seat in the United States Senate in January of 1999. He has concentrated on four broad themes - fiscal responsibility, federalism, competitiveness, and national security. He has served as the Majority Leader's liaison to the nation's governors and mayors. Currently he sits on four committees in the Senate: the Environmental and Public Works Committee; the Governmental Affairs Committee; the Small Business Committee; and, the Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as chairman of two sub-committees- Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring and the District of Columbia (within the Environment and Public Works Committee) and Transportation and Infrastructure (within the Committee on Government Affairs).
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