YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Tickets are now available for anyone wishing to attend a tribute for the late Jim Traficant.
A steady stream of people showed up at DeYor Performing Arts Center in downtown Youngstown on Monday, all making sure they will get a seat at the ceremony Nov. 30. The former Valley congressman died in September from injuries he sustained in a tractor accident at the family’s farm in Greenford.
Traficant’s family decided to hold a public tribute to give everyone a chance to pay their respects.
One of the hundreds of people who got tickets on Monday was Irene Lutz of Newton Falls.
“I was so sad to hear what happened to him and I thought he was getting involved in speaking some more and maybe he could have helped our country that way,” Lutz said. “He was such an honest man, unlike most of the people in Congress. If you asked him a question, he would give you the answer. He wouldn’t start talking about something else. He seemed to really care about his constituents.”
Lutz said she saw Traficant speak several times after he was released from prison.
“He didn’t act like he was too big to talk to anybody. He helped people that some people might be afraid to help. I believe he was a real, honest, decent human being and for him to get kicked out of Congress and to go to prison was very unjust. But it is what happens to good people because they don’t want good people in Congress,” Lutz said.
She said some of his more “outlandish” ideas have come to pass, noting she has Traficant’s book “America’s Last Minuteman,” which is a compilation of Traficant’s one-minute speeches made on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
“I think he knew things and I think others in Congress knew them too but it was advantageous for them to keep their mouths shut,” Lutz said.
Karen Cunningham of Warren also was there to get her tickets.
“He has done a lot for the Valley. He came out with a lot of truths many years ago as far as NASA and putting guards on the borders. He said this was going to be a third-world country and we are on our way,” Cunningham said.
She said she believes Traficant was a visionary.
“Maybe people did not like the crude way he came across, but he got his point across,” Cunningham said.
She said she has 10 or 12 pictures that Traficant painted while he was in prison.
“I wrote to him to let him know I still supported him,” Cunningham said.
Tickets will be available at the DeYor Performing Arts Center box office from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. until Friday, or until they are gone. The tickets are free and there is a limit of four tickets per person.
Organizers said 2,200 tickets were available and 1,400 were handed out on Monday, so there are only 800 left.
Traficant’s tribute will be held at DeYor at 2 p.m. Nov. 30.