Yellow Dog Sammy Interviews State Sen. Capri Cafaro
On March 16th I sat down with State Sen. Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) in a coffee shop in Warren, Ohio for an early morning interview. She had been appointed in December to the 32nd Ohio Senate District seat that Marc Dann vacated to assume the office of Attorney General. She will run for re-election in 2008. The interview is posted on the state sub-page.
Cafaro, 29, was born in Youngstown, Ohio into a wealthy family whose fortune comes from the shopping center business. She earned a bachelor of arts degree with honors in American studies from Stanford University and later earned a master's degree in international relations from Georgetown University. While in the master's program Cafaro worked as a staffer for Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and Sen. Alphonse D'Amato (D-NY), focusing on health care, education and Social Security. Two years later Cafaro founded a public relations firm concentrating on not-for-profit clients.
In 2004 Cafaro challenged Rep. Steve LaTourette (D-Concord Township) of the 14th Ohio Congressional District. Although she won the Democratic primary over then-State Rep. Ed Jerse in a landslide, she lost the general election by a wide margin. Last year she narrowly lost the Democratic primary for the open 13th Ohio Congressional District to Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township). Those campaigns had been marked by lingering questions about Cafaro's testimony under a grant of immunity in a federal bribery trial involving disgraced former Congressman James Traficant (D-Youngstown), with Cafaro asserting that she had done nothing wrong and indicating through her attorney that her critics might face litigation for insinuating otherwise. Subsequently, her appointment by the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus was criticized by some because she was strongly endorsed by predecessor Marc Dann, who had received substantial campaign contributions from Cafaro's father. Dann defended his endorsement by saying that Cafaro was the best qualified person to assume his former post.
I requested the interview specifically in an effort to look beyond the controversies that arose and had been thoroughly discussed during Cafaro's campaigns and appointment. I wanted to give the new State Senator the opportunity to show her capacity to grow into the position to which she has been appointed and to create a legislative record worthy of re-election. We talked at length about her approach to being a legislator, public policy issues of special concern to her, the character of the 32nd District, and particularly the economic malaise that plagues the Mahoning Valley. We discussed the promise of alternative and renewable energy for rebuilding the area's economy, and the challenges to come in the 2007 Ohio budget process. She spoke articulately and in great detail about policy issues and specific budget issues. In addition, Cafaro revealed the steps she has taken to establish a working relationship with former election adversary LaTourette, and spelled out her approach to keeping her seat in two years.
READ THE INTERVIEW
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