Former Rep. Jontz Dies of Cancer

Posted April 16, 2007 at 6:35pm

Former Rep. Jim Jontz (D-Ind.) died April 14 at his home in Portland, Ore., after battling colon cancer. Jontz, who also served as president emeritus of Americans for Democratic Action, was 55 years old.

ADA spokesman Don Kusler said Jontz was diagnosed with cancer two years ago and that the disease had spread to his liver.

Jontz got his start in politics at age 22 when he was elected to Indiana’s House of Representatives, where he served for 10 years. He also served for two years in the state Senate before being elected to the U.S. House in 1985. Jontz served in the House from 1986 to 1992, when he lost to now-Rep. Steve Buyer (R). He unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate in 1994. [IMGCAP(1)]

Jontz was known mostly for his work on environmental issues. During his time in Congress, he pushed for legislation protecting forests in the Pacific Northwest.

Jontz was president of ADA from 1998 to 2002. For the past few years he served as president emeritus, leading the Working Families Win project, which aimed to educate presidential and Congressional candidates about fair trade and environmental issues. The Working Families Win project engages local activists on outsourcing, minimum-wage increases and affordable health care issues.

Kusler said Jontz focused on environmental issues throughout his political life, both in the Indiana’s state Legislature and the U.S. Congress.

According to a statement released by ADA, Jontz was a “powerful voice for working families … bringing labor and trade activists together with the environmental community.”

Jontz was born in Indianapolis on Dec. 18, 1951. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in geology at Indiana University at Bloomington. He attended Purdue University and Butler University for his graduate studies.

Jontz is survived by his mother and sister. Funeral services were pending as of press time.

— Marnette Federis