CONGRESSMAN DENNIS KUCINICH
Kucinich also spearheaded a public campaign to try to stop Ameritech from dividing Parma, Ohio into two area codes, a campaign which gathered written objections from over 7,000 Parma residents. The Parma area code case is currently pending before the Ohio Supreme Court. Kucinich has also actively represented residents of Olmsted Falls, Olmsted Township and Parma and their concerns involving airport noise problems and a proposed expansion of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
In Congress, Kucinich's bipartisan work on a national scale has focused on several areas key to the needs of his congressional district, particularly in the areas of trade policy, environmental protection, and National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) funding. Kucinich helped form a coalition of Democrats and Republicans united in defeating the Clinton Administration's effort to pass "Fast Track"; he led the early effort to support the new clean air rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and, finally, he coordinated a bipartisan effort of 201 House members to object to a proposed $1 billion cut in NASA funding, an effort which actually resulted in a $100 million increase for the space agency.
For this work, Kucinich has been praised by a wide spectrum of colleagues, including Republicans Pat Buchanan ("Another Ohioan in the great tradition of Bill McKinley") and Government Reform Committee Chairman Dan Burton ("I wish he were a Republican"), and Democratic Congressmen Dave Bonior ("Dennis has shined as brightly as anyone in his class") and Henry Waxman ("Your final grade for managing your first bill is an A+"). Kucinich's bipartisan approach is reflected in his being asked to serve as the co-chair of the House Aviation and Space Caucus, aimed at promoting the interests of NASA and the aerospace industry, and as the co-chair of the Baltic Caucus, an informal bipartisan group of House members with backgrounds and interests in issues affecting Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
Kucinich's political career began when he was elected to the Cleveland City Council in 1969. Kucinich was re-elected to City Council in 1971 and 1973. In 1975 he was elected Clerk of the Municipal Courts. In 1977 he was elected Mayor of Cleveland; at the age of 31, he was the youngest person ever elected mayor of a major American city. He made a campaign pledge to save the city's electric system, known then as Muny Light. When a Cleveland bank tried to force the sale of the electric system to the private utility company as a condition of extending the city's credit, Mayor Kucinich chose to keep Muny Light. As a result of Kucinich's refusal to sell, Cleveland Trust (now defunct) put the city into default over $15 million in loans. But the electric system was saved.
In February 1979 Cleveland voters re-affirmed by a 2-1 vote margin the mayor's decision to keep Muny Light. And despite the International Fraternal Order of Eagles naming Kucinich the outstanding public official in America, he lost his bid for re-election. Since Kucinich's decision on Muny Light, Cleveland's municipal electric system has saved rate-payers nearly $200 million. The system is expanding citywide, and Kucinich is now widely credited with having taken a courageous stand to save it, contributing to his political comeback in 1994 when he was elected State Senator and to his rise to Congress in 1996 and 1998.