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Vice presidential debate at Case serves as backdrop for pre-election forum, featuring prominent Ohio policymakers

Photo: Mandel School of Applied Social SciencesOne of the most contentious presidential elections in U.S. history—with the state of Ohio serving as a crucial bellwether state—comes to Case Western Reserve University on Tuesday, October 5, with the candidates for vice president squaring off on campus in a nationally televised debate. Prior to the debate, the university will hold several debate-related forums, symposia and other events involving national, state and local policy makers, as well as Case students, faculty and staff.

A panel discussion kicking off the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences’ 90th anniversary celebration will be held on the eve of the vice presidential debate, Monday, October 4, at 4:30 p.m. at the Mandel School. The event is meant to be a primer for critically assessing the debate, covering policy issues of significance so citizens can make informed decisions on Election Day, November 2.

Panelists include five current and former Ohio public servants: Retired Cleveland-area Democratic congressman and Mandel School faculty member Louis Stokes; State Rep. Jim Trakas (R-Independence), majority whip of the Ohio House of Representatives who also serves as Central Committee Chair of the Cuyahoga County Republican Party; Lee Weingart, consultant, Cuyahoga County Republican Party and former Cuyahoga County Commissioner; and Tim Hagan, Cuyahoga County Commissioner-elect and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Public Policy at the Mandel School. Hagan also was the Democratic candidate in an unsuccessful bid to unseat Republican Gov. Bob Taft of Ohio in 2002.

Lee Fisher, president and CEO of the Center for Families and Children and a member of the Mandel School Advisory Council, will moderate the discussion. Fisher also was a Democratic candidate for Ohio governor in 1998.

“This is an amazing opportunity to have these notable people gathered in one place to discuss issues of extraordinary importance to one of the most hotly-contested presidential elections in history,” said Grover C. “Cleve” Gilmore, dean of the Mandel School. “Just as exciting is the fact that the Mandel School will begin a year-long celebration of the 90th anniversary of our founding. The vice presidential debate and this outstanding forum great kick-off events to begin the commemoration of 90 years of innovative social work education.”

Fisher will open with remarks, setting the stage. Each of the four panelists will have seven minutes to make an opening statement. For the next hour, questions will come the audience and each side will have one minute to respond.

The event is free and open to the public.

Forum panel:

Louis Stokes, an attorney and former U.S. Representative from Cleveland, was the first African American member of the U.S. Congress elected from the state of Ohio. During his tenure in Congress, Stokes chaired several committees, including the House Select Committee on Assassinations, the House Ethics Committee, the House Intelligence Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. He was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus. The Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center is named for him.

Lee C. Weingart served as Cuyahoga County Commissioner from 1995-1997. Weingart, an attorney, has served as vice chairman of the O.H.I.O. Foundation, and has co-chaired the Scrooge and Marley Ball to raise money for Camp Cheerful. Weingart, is campaign coordinator of the LNE Group, a Cleveland lobbying firm.

Jim Trakas is serving his third term in the Ohio House of Representatives, representing southeastern Cuyahoga County and serving as House Majority Whip. The Republican legislator was elected to the Ohio House in 1998 at the age of 33. He serves on the Finance and Appropriations Committee, the Higher Education Subcommittee and the Rules and Reference and State Government Committees. He also is a former city councilman in the Cleveland suburb of Independence, his hometown.

Tim Hagan is incoming Cuyahoga County Commissioner and former Democratic candidate for governor of Ohio in 2002. He joined Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences this fall as a Distinguished Visiting Faculty for Public Policy. Hagan has spent most of his working life in public service, including nearly two decades in elected public office. He won the Democratic nomination for Cuyahoga County Commissioner in March 2004. Facing no opponent in the general election in November, Hagan will take office in January.

Lee Fisher, a former Ohio Attorney General, state representative, state senator and candidate for governor and Ohio chair of the 1992 Clinton-Gore campaign, is teaching a course at Case this fall called “The 2004 Presidential Election: How We Elect Our President, Why it Matters, and What’s at Stake.” Fisher is currently president and CEO of the Cleveland-based Center for Families and Children.


About Case Western Reserve University

Case is among the nation's leading research institutions. Founded in 1826 and shaped by the unique merger of the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University, Case is distinguished by its strengths in education, research, service, and experiential learning. Located in Cleveland, Case offers nationally recognized programs in the Arts and Sciences, Dental Medicine, Engineering, Law, Management, Medicine, Nursing, and Social Work.