An aide to current ranking member Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., for 32 years, Zoia moved to the panel in 2011 from the chief-of-staff position at the House Natural Resources Committee. Asked what’s different about this committee and about being in the minority, Zoia said, “I no longer have to spend half my day on administrative paperwork. Yea!” Playing defense is a familiar role for Zoia, although the current circumstances are slightly different than the four contentious years he spent battling then-Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., the very conservative chairman of the Natural Resources Committee.
Rahall and Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., get along well, and transportation issues tend to be more bipartisan. The 56-year-old Zoia is an Ohio University graduate who grew up in Independence, Ohio. He was writing for an energy publication in 1980 when he met Rahall and became his legislative director. He also served as the staff director on the Mining and Natural Resources Subcommittee of the then-Interior Committee.
This article appears in the July 25, 2013, edition of NJ Daily as Jim Zoia, Minority Staff Director.