Twinsburg -- When he was first elected to the U.S. Congress in 1995, U.S. House Rep. Steven LaTourette resolved to be a force for progress in the state of Ohio.
As he looks forward to retirement and work in the private sector, he's confident he succeeded.
LaTourette served as representative for Ohio's 19th U.S. congressional district from 1995 to 2000, and was elected Congressman of the newly-drawn 14th district in 2002. As his most recent term came to a close last fall, he chose not to seek reelection and retired Jan. 3.
"My proudest accomplishments are finding a way forward to fix the problem and not finding a way to blame somebody," LaTourette said.
Having been responsible for bridging the gap between local and federal governments, LaTourette said his fondest memories of his tenure include working closely with mayors and city officials in the 14th District, which includes Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties, as well as portions of Portage, Summit, Trumbull and Cuyahoga counties. Dealing with federal bureaucracy is a not-so-fond memory.
"It's a two-part job, and the part that I loved about it was working with Mayor [Katherine] Procop and Mayor [Karen] Fritschel in Stow and all the local elected officials to try and help resolve some of their issues in partnership with the federal government," LaTourette said. "I will definitely miss working with those local elected officials. I'm not going to so much miss dealing with the United States Senate."
LaTourette established a reputation as a hard-working representative who was willing to put partisan differences aside for the sake of improving the community. Projects under his supervision included traffic access revisions to Route 8, among other road improvement efforts.
"I'm very proud of the connector road between [routes] 91 and 82 named after the fallen police officer in Twinsburg [Officer Joshua Miktarian Memorial Parkway,]" LaTourette said. "There's a whole smattering of things that I'm proud of, but none of those would have come about unless I had great partnerships with the local elected officials."
Leaving state congress behind him, LaTourette is looking forward to shorter hours and applying his experience to helping the public relate to the federal government. He is currently president of McDonald-Hopkins Government Strategies, a subsidiary of the McDonald-Hopkins law firm. The move was announced Jan. 8 by McDonald-Hopkins, which has offices in Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Detroit, Miami and West Palm Beach, Fla.
McDonald Hopkins Government Strategies will have offices overlooking Capitol Hill. LaTourette's wife, Jennifer, has worked for a Washington lobbying firm for the past 10 years.
Bipartisanship was important to LaTourette, who feels modern politics leaves little room for such moderation -- a major reason for his decision to retire.
"I've been a problem solver and that's how I attempted to approach the job," LaTourette said. "Actually, what caused me to decide to leave is the fact that there is no place for that anymore. The art of compromise that people talk about fondly with Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill really doesn't exist today."
U.S. Congressman David Joyce, who was sworn in as the new 14th district representative Jan. 3, has known and worked with LaTourette for years, having served with him as Lake County Prosecutor. Joyce said he is excited to carry on his predecessor's legacy of hard work and public service.
"Obviously, there are big shoes to fill," Joyce said of LaTourette. "He was a tremendous congressman and he's a good friend. It didn't matter if it was necessarily in his district, if it was in the best interest of people in Northeastern Ohio, he was certainly involved in making sure it got taken care of and I want to continue that tradition."
At the same time, LaTourette is confident his district is in good hands.
"I've known Dave Joyce for 30 years and he's going to do a great job," LaTourette said. "If I could have hand-picked somebody, he would be the guy I would pick. I think that the region has shown that it will reward with re-election somebody who's interested in solving problems rather than throwing bombs. Dave is just that kind of guy and I think he's going to do a great job."
LaTourette stood up to the tasks of governance for more than 18 years, but says a public servant can only bear so much bickering.
"Politics is a contact sport, so you accept that you're going to have disagreements with people and people are going to be political," LaTourette said. "Today, what drove me out the door was that people basically want to fight about everything. If an idea was thought up by a Democrat and you're a Republican, you have to say it's a horrible idea and vise versa. It limited my ability, in my opinion, to be an effective problem solver because nobody was interested in solving problems."