Gentile officially kicks off campaign

MINGO JUNCTION — Ohio Sen. Lou Gentile officially launched his campaign for re-election at a rally at the Mingo Junction Knights of Columbus on Sunday.

Gentile, D-Steubenville, and several prominent state Democrats spoke to a crowd of about 300 of Gentile’s supporters. Attendees ranged from officials at all levels of government to labor union representatives, veterans, Democrat Party officials, campaign volunteers and family members.

Gentile is being challenged for his Senate seat opposed by local businessman and former Navy Seal Republican Frank Hoagland.

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T-L Photo/JANELL HUNTER
Supporters of Ohio Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, raise their signs at a Gentile campaign rally Sunday in Mingo Junction.

“This is going to be one of the most important targeted Senate races in the state. We’ve got a great candidate in Sen. Gentile. He’s very in touch with the district, very well-known and well-liked. We believe he’s going to be re-elected, but we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that he stays in the Senate where he can do a lot of good for the people of the district,” said Ohio Democratic Party Communications Director Kirstin Alvanitakis.

Speakers at the rally included Ohio Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, former Ohio first lady Frances Strickland and Ohio Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, as well as Gentile.

Cera gave a rousing speech, interrupted by much applause.

“I’ve served with a lot of people over the years. … There’s no one better that I’ve served with than Lou Gentile,” Cera said. “Lou and I have talked, and we look at the things the current people in charge in Columbus do, and the things that our people need in Eastern Ohio don’t even make the list of the crap that they’re working on in Columbus. We need to make sure working men and women and families and communities are taken care of (and) local governments are provided funding. We need to make sure all these things are available so we can rebuild our area and not just take care of the wealthy and the big cities but bring things back to Appalachian Ohio.”

Strickland talked about Democrat party values, and said Gentile represents those values. She addressed the room, saying, “Martin Luther King, Jr. talked about the strength to love, and how it depends on both a strong mind and a tender heart.

“I see a lot of love in this room today. By your very presence, I see people with strong minds and tender hearts. You have the wisdom to understand and recognize that policies matter. … I always see a tender heart as innate to Democrats. … Lou’s ability to help people is multiplied by the relationships he has with others that care as much as he does.”

Also regarding her support for Gentile, Strickland said, ” When I came in here, I was surprised to see some people that came all the way from Monroe County. They said, ‘This guy works really hard for us. This is the least we can do.’ I feel like that sums it up. … He’s doing everything he can to stay close to the people, and I think those are the kind of people we need to elect.”

Schiavoni took the podium next and talked about his fight alongside Gentile in the Senate. Regarding his support for Gentile and his run for re-election, Schiavoni said, “This race is very competitve. If you look at the demographics in the district it leans slightly Democratic, but if you look at past races it’s been close. … I think Sen. Gentile has worked incredibly hard to represent this area. The days he’s not in Columbus he’s somewhere in the district working and listening to people, trying to gather information to present solid, common sense bills in Columbus. For example, he tried to amend a bill the last day of session to give businesses tax breaks for hiring veterans.”‘

Gentile thanked his supporters and introduced his family. He acknowledged their positive influence on his life. He thanked his family, supporters and the community for “teaching me that it wasn’t about me, it was about service. It was about helping others.”

He continued, “If you give me the opportunity to go back to the Ohio Senate, I will spend every day and night, seven days a week, focused on what we can do to turn this area around and get our economy going and improve the lives of future generations.”

Regarding the most pressing issues that he sees in the community, Gentile said, “Job growth and economic development is really the most important issue in this campaign, and for the valley. Infrastructure is also important. I think roads, bridges, water and sewer are so critical to building a strong economy. And we’ve got to make sure our local communities can provide services. Good infrastructure will keep jobs here and will help bring in new jobs. Those are the things I’ve been focused on since I’ve been in the Senate.”