Canton Repository

1-19-01

Stark-area politicos have a ball at inauguration 

By PAUL M. KRAWZAK
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON — George W. Bush’s swearing-in Saturday as the nation’s 43rd president will be the first that Canton resident Anthony Sciotto has attended.

Sciotto, a “staunch longtime Republican,’’ entered politics just a few years ago. But the second-term precinct committeeman is eager to see the inauguration because he voted for Bush and running mate Dick Cheney and “I want to see some of the stuff that goes on firsthand. If I’m going to stay as involved as I am, I want to see it all the way through.’’

Most who are making the trip are, like Sciotto, involved in GOP politics.

Barbara Musci of Bath is an exception. An independent, she’s never been involved in politics. But she voted for Bush, and a friend secured tickets for her and two childhood friends.

“I’m thrilled,’’ she said. “We’re three best friends and all grew up together. Washington won’t ever be the same after we leave it,’’ she said, jokingly.

Musci and Sciotto are among more than 1,000 Ohioans heading to the $30 million-plus four-day event. Inauguration planners expect as many as 750,000 people at the swearing-in, the centerpiece of the celebration.

This will be the fourth inauguration for Bob Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Republican Party. But he said he’s especially excited about this one because it’s the first of the new century and the first time since Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 that the GOP has recaptured the White House from Democrats.

“The transition of power is always a historic moment,’’ he said.

Bennett believes this inauguration has drawn more enthusiasm and a larger contingent from Ohio than the first President Bush’s swearing-in in 1989.

“I think the biggest difference is that 12 years ago we were succeeding a Republican president (Reagan),’’ he said. “This year the Republicans have been out of power for eight years.’’

Ohio has contributed more presidents (seven) than any other state except Virginia, so it’s no surprise that Ohioans are playing a prominent role in the proceedings.

Two Cincinnati-area couples, Bill and Kathy DeWitt and Mercer and Gabrielle Reynolds, serve as co-chairs of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, planner and coordinator of the event.

The Ohio State University Marching Band is among the participants in Saturday’s inaugural parade, while two Plain Local Schools teachers — Don Turoso and Bob Esterle — are part of a band called Nightcoach that’s performing at one of the multistate inaugural balls — not Ohio’s.

Ohio visitors are invited to several state-sponsored gatherings, including a “salute’’ to the state’s congressional delegation and statewide leadership at the Washington Harbour Complex on Friday.

Gov. Bob Taft is hosting a pre-inauguration coffee Saturday morning, while Sens. Mike DeWine and George Voinovich host an open house after the swearing-in.

The final big event is Ohio’s inaugural ball, one of eight $125-per-ticket black-tie affairs where the new president, vice president and their wives will make the rounds.

Ohio and Florida are the only states with their own balls. All other states are grouped together — for example, Bush’s homestate of Texas is grouped with Cheney’s homestate of Wyoming. The groupings were determined based on expected attendance at the events and the capacity of the ball venues, the committee said.