Ohio utility regulator's seat draws 26 applicants

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Engineers, lawyers, executives and two state lawmakers are among contenders to become Ohio's next utilities regulator.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio received 26 applications for the seat Commissioner Cheryl Roberto is set to vacate Monday. Applicants include Sen. Shirley Smith and Rep. Sandra Williams, both Cleveland Democrats.

Outgoing Congressman Dennis Kucinich's (koo-SIN'-ich-ihz) long-time senior counsel, PUCO staffers, an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency environmental lawyer, and those listing experience in energy, telecommunications, transportation and fossil fuels also applied.

Roberto was appointed by former Gov. Ted Strickland and specialized in energy efficiency and the environment. Her seat can't go to a Republican because the party already controls three of five seats.

The panel charged with sending four finalists to Gov. John Kasich (KAY'-sik) meets Jan. 17. Kasich makes the final selection.

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