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Perspective: Seth Taft -- A 'high-road class act'

11:18 AM, Apr 15, 2013   |    comments
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PERSPECTIVE -- Few people under 50 in Greater Cleveland could tell you much about Seth Taft.

His contributions belonged to a different era. Taft died over the weekend at his Pepper Pike home. He was 90.

He was a class act, who cared about his community and public service and championed several ideas ahead of his time that later became reality.

Taft was the grandson of President William Howard Taft.

He was part of the Taft family political dynasty rooted in Cincinnati  that included the President, Ohio Senator Robert Taft and a host of VIPs who became cornerstones of the Greater Cincinnati community.

He could have stayed home and inherited the Taft reputation and stature and, no doubt, had a long  and cushy career in elective office.

But he and his wife decided not to inherit a blueblood life in his hometown.

They decided to risk the uncertain and move to Cleveland.

Taft began working at the prestigious law firm then called Jones, Day, Reavis and Pogue.

He was involved in political and civic life.

He was best known as  the Republican candidate who ran against and lost to Carl Stokes, who went on to become the first African-American mayor in the country.

Taft was not a flashy or glib politican, lacking a bit in the charisma department.

Some urged him to play race cards in his campaign when a majority of Cleveland voters were white. He refused.

He lost in a close race, but earned respect and admiration for staying on the high road.

Taft's impressive showing in the race for mayor helped him get  elected  Cuyahoga County Commissioner when it was still possible for a Republican to do that.

Taft was on of the early voices advocating a restructured county government.

He also pushed for the concepts of regional government and shared services to be more efficient and save money in a county with many duplicate governments and agencies.

Taft was involved with five unsuccessful reform ballot efforts. Some called him the "father" of the  reform movement that finally succeeded in 2009, in the wake of scandals and official greed.

He lost most of the political races he ran for. He was an unsuccessful candidate for Ohio Senate in 1962.

He came up short in the Republican primary for governor in 1982.

Carl Stokes' family chose Taft to deliver a eulogy at his funeral.

He was not a winner at the ballot box.

But he deserves to win the region's appreciation and gratitude for his dedication to good government.

If only there were more like him.


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