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Mary Rose Oakar


Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 20th district
In office
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 1993
Preceded by James V. Stanton
Succeeded by District eliminated

Born March 5, 1940 (1940-03-05) (age 69)
Cleveland, Ohio
Political party Democratic

Mary Rose Oakar (born March 5, 1940) is an American Democratic politician and former member of the United States House of Representatives from Ohio, the first Democratic woman elected to the United States Congress from that state.

Oakar, who graduated with a B.A. from Ursuline College in 1962 and an M.A. from John Carroll University in 1966, taught at Lourdes Academy, a Catholic high school for women, directed plays, taught at Cuyahoga Community College from 1968 to 1975 and served on the Cleveland City Council from 1973 to 1976 before winning election to the House from Ohio's 20th congressional district in Cleveland's West Side and the surrounding suburbs. She took office in 1977, succeeding James V. Stanton.

Oakar, one of only a handful of Arab-American members of the House, became regarded as an increasingly powerful member of the House. She was a high ranking member of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, the Committee on Post Office and Civil Service and the House Administration Committee. Oakar's high placement on these committees allowed her to bring home to Cleveland large sums of money for urban renewal. Oakar forged strong relationships with Jewish groups in Cleveland. From 1985 to 1989, Oakar was elected to a position in the House Democratic leadership, as Secretary of the House Democratic Caucus.[1]

In 1991, she was one of nearly one-hundred Members of Congress in a widespread House Bank controversy involving overdrafts, even though the House Bank was not a financial institution per se.

In 1992, her district was renumbered the 10th and redrawn to include more Republicans, though it was still heavily Democratic. Oakar withstood a challenge from Tim Hagan in the Democratic primary — Hagan had been endorsed by Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White — but lost to Martin Hoke in the general election.

Oakar pled guilty to violating campaign finance laws, a misdemeanor in the early 1990s.

She won a 1999 libel settlement against Cleveland's newspaper, The Plain Dealer.

Oakar unsuccessfully ran in the 2001 Cleveland Mayoral Primary and served a single term in the Ohio House of Representatives from 2000 to 2002.

Currently, Oakar is president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), which describes itself as the largest Arab-American grassroots civil-rights organization in the U.S.

References

  1. ^ "Women Elected to Party Leadership Positions". Women in Congress. U.S. House of Representatives. http://womenincongress.house.gov/data/leadership.html. Retrieved 2008-12-15.  

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
James V. Stanton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Ohio's 20th congressional district

1977–1993
Succeeded by
District eliminated after 1990 Census
Party political offices
Preceded by
Geraldine Ferraro
Secretary of Democratic Caucus of the United States House of Representatives
1985–1989
Succeeded by
?
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