Former Democratic Rep. Tom Sawyer passes away at 77

May 24, 2023

A former Ohio congressman who backed former President Bill Clinton passed away this week at the age of 77 after a long illness. 

According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Democrat Tom Sawyer spent a combined total of over 40 years in local, state, and national politics.

From Akron to Capitol Hill

Sawyer was elected as mayor of Akron in 1983. He also served on the State Board of Education and spent time in the Ohio Senate as well as the U.S. Congress.

During his time on Capitol Hill, Sawyer voted for Clinton's 1993 budget and sided with the president in backing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

"It was, by a considerable margin, perhaps the toughest decision I've ever had to make in public life," The New York Times quoted Sawyer as saying after the 1993 vote. "Probably this vote is more easily misunderstood than any vote I've ever cast."

Sawyer again came to Clinton's aid in 1998 when he voted against Republican efforts to impeach the president over perjury.

Current Akron mayor says Sawyer "worked tirelessly for his constituents"

The Beacon noted that news of Sawyer's passing was lamented by other political figures, including Akron's current Democratic Mayor Dan Horrigan.

"I am saddened to hear of the passing of former City of Akron Mayor Tom Sawyer. Congressman Sawyer selflessly dedicated his life to public service," Horrigan was quoted as saying in a statement.

"He worked tirelessly for his constituents, many of whom were his neighbors, friends, and family, in the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate, the United States Congress, and as the Mayor of Akron," the mayor declared.

Horrigan praised Sawyer for having "exemplified the importance of public service and leadership at every level in which he served."

"I, along with my entire administration, City Council, and all of Akron send our sincere condolences to his family," Horrigan concluded.

Ohio governor calls Sawyer "one of the nicest people I have ever worked with"

Horrigan was not alone, as Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine also remarked on Sawyer's death, saying that he and his wife were "saddened to hear of the death of former Congressman Tom Sawyer."

"Tom and I served in the U.S. House of Representatives together, and he was one of the nicest people I have ever worked with," he recalled.

"Tom was a staunch advocate for Akron and Northeast Ohio," DeWine continued, adding, "Fran and I offer our sincerest condolences to his wife, Joyce, and daughter, Amanda."

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