Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation: Who Is Betty Sutton?
On July 24, 2013, the White House announced that Betty Sutton would be appointed administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, a government-owned corporation that operates and maintains the U.S. portion of the St. Lawrence Seaway. A system of locks, canals and channels stretching along the St. Lawrence River between Montréal and Lake Erie, the Seaway allows ocean-going vessels to travel between the Atlantic Ocean and the Great Lakes.
Born July 31, 1963, and raised in the Akron, Ohio, suburb of Barberton, Betty Sutton was the daughter of a factory worker and a clerk. She attended public schools and earned a B.A. in political science at Kent State University in 1985, and a law degree at the University of Akron School of Law in 1990.
Sutton commenced her political career during her first year of law school, running for and winning an at-large seat on the Barberton City Council in 1990. A year later, she was appointed to an at-large seat on the Summit County Council and served until 1992, including service as the council’s elected vice president. That same year, at age 29, Sutton became the youngest woman ever to win election to the Ohio House of Representatives, where she served for eight years until term limits forced her to resign in 2000.
Leaving public service, Sutton worked as a labor lawyer with the Cleveland firm of Faulkner, Muskovitz & Phillips from 2001 to 2006, where she worked closely with the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), the union that represents dock workers throughout the Great Lakes and the Seaway.
In 2006, sensing a political opportunity in the decision of Rep. Sherrod Brown (D) to vacate his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in order to run for Senate, Sutton ran for and won his seat representing Ohio’s 13th congressional district. Sutton won re-election in 2008 and survived the Republican wave in 2010, but redistricting forced her into a more Republican district where she lost re-election in 2012.
While in the House, Sutton was recognized as a “key House architect” of the American Clean Energy and Security Act that passed the House in June 2009, primarily for her role in offering an amendment that established the popular “Cash for Clunkers” program that helped the U.S. auto industry weather the worst months of the Great Recession.
Sutton’s appointment was greeted positively by Seaway stakeholders. “We could not be more pleased with Sutton’s appointment as Seaway Administrator,” said Donald N. Cree, President of Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF), a labor/management coalition that promotes waterborne commerce on the Great Lakes and the Seaway.
Labor chimed in as well. “With Sutton at the Seaway’s helm, we can be assured that the overriding goal of every action taken will be to create and sustain jobs for American workers and opportunities for American companies,” said John D. Baker, 2nd Vice President of GLMTF and President Emeritus of the ILA’s Great Lakes District Council. “The Seaway could not be in better hands.”
Sutton currently resides in Copley Township, Ohio, with her husband, Doug Corwon, a mediator with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
To Learn More:
Betty Sutton, Former Congresswoman to be Appointed to Head Saint Lawrence Seaway Agency (Cleveland Plain Dealer Staff)
Lakes Welcome Sutton Appointment as Seaway Administrator (Great Lakes Maritime Task Force press release)
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