Thursday, December 02, 1999

Noted fathers on sidelines as sons, daughter take office




BY HOWARD WILKINSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Anyone who doubts the old saying that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree needed to be in City Council chambers Wednesday as Charlie Luken, Pat DeWine and Alicia Reece became the newest Cincinnati City Council members.

        There, they would have seen, beaming with pride, three men standing on the sidelines who are more used to being front and center in the political spotlight.

        They are the new council members' fathers — former councilman, mayor and congressman Thomas Luken; the senior Senator from Ohio, Mike DeWine; and Steve Reece, a former council candidate and city hall veteran who has been active in Democratic politics for decades.

        “This is a very special occasion,” the senior Mr. Luken said, as he stood in council chambers, just before administering the oath of office to his 48-year-old son, who was returning to the mayor's office after a 10-year absence from city hall.

        “When I ask Charlie to raise his right hand to take the oath, it may be the only time in the last 40 years that he does exactly what I tell him to do,” Thomas Luken said.

        Charlie Luken has been a political figure and well-known Cincinnatian for nearly 20 years in his own right, but he grew up in a political family — with both his father and uncle, the late Jim Luken, serving on council in the late 1960s and early '70s. When Thomas Luken retired from Congress, the younger Luken won the seat in 1990 and held it for one term, before coming home to become a TV News anchor.

        While Charlie Luken started his second career in politics Wednesday, Mr. DeWine, 31, and Ms. Reece, a 28-year-old radio producer and businesswoman, were launching new ca reers.

        The new Republican council member's father, U.S. Sen Mike DeWine, wandered around council chambers Wednesday morning with his camera, taking pictures of his son and grandchildren just as any father would at a big family event.

        Pat DeWine grew up as the eldest son in a large family where his father was always, it seems, running for something — Greene County prosecutor, congressman, lieutenant governor, and, finally, the U.S. Senate.

        “Pat worked in every one of the campaigns; he always wanted to be involved,” the senator said.

        Fran DeWine, the new councilman's mother, remembered that when Pat DeWine was 8 years old he “marched in a lot of parades and always hated it. That's why I was surprised when he went into politics.”

        Ms. Reece, the youngest woman ever elected to council, stunned political observers by finishing fifth in her first run for public office.

        During the campaign, she often said that one of her earliest memories was of her father's unsuccessful campaign for city council in 1975, when she was only 4 years old and passed out Reese's peanut butter cups to voters on street corners with her father.

        Mr. Reece, an aide to former mayor Ted Berry in the early 1970s, has close ties to the Rev. Jesse Jackson and worked on Mr. Jackson's presidential campaigns in 1984 and 1988.

        “Even when she was real little, Alicia wanted to go along and sit in all the meetings we had with Jesse and Mrs. (Coretta Scott) King and a lot of national figures,” Mr. Reece said.

        As a teen-ager, she worked in the Jackson campaigns.

        “It was her idea to run for council,” Mr. Reece said. “And I'm real proud of what she did.”

       



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