Hard work, perseverance and resilience. These are qualities that define the people of the Ohio Valley. They are also the virtues of our state senator, Lou Gentile.
As the Ohio Political and Legislative Coordinator for the United Mine Workers, I have witnessed firsthand how Lou embodies all of the characteristics that make this valley great.
Lou is the Ohio Valley. Born and bred here, Lou is the grandson and son of steelworkers. His father later graduated college and became a social worker, and his mother was a school teacher.
Much like the hardworking men and women of his district, Lou is known in the valley and at the Statehouse for his tireless work ethic and commitment to serving all the people in his district. In public service today, trust and sincerity really matter, and Lou is someone we can count on. He has proven to be trustworthy and sincere. Lou has also developed into an effective leader – a person who in the face of great adversity can deliver for his district. Lou is not afraid to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
One look at Lou’s accomplishments in the last four years, and you will understand why Lou’s leadership has mattered.
As someone who has worked in the coal mines and represented my fellow brothers and sisters, I can tell you no one is fighting harder for our coal miners than Lou Gentile.
Mine safety has always been a priority for the United Mine Workers. In 2013, when we discovered that the Kasich administration slated the Mine Safety Training Center in Cadiz for closure, it was Lou Gentile who came to the rescue – Lou Gentile saved the Mine Safety Training Center.
Lou Gentile was the first leader to step forward publicly and question why it was being closed. Lou built a coalition of local officials, along with the UMWA, to protest the closure.
As a result of Lou’s leadership, the state is now going to build a state-of-the-art, multi-million dollar facility in Cadiz. Without a doubt, had it not been for Lou’s leadership this center would not have been built in Eastern Ohio.
What does this say about Lou’s leadership abilities? It demonstrates a strong commitment to worker safety as well as his willingness to fight for the people in his district.
We all agree, when workers spend their entire lives laboring so that others can live in peace and prosperity they deserve to retire in dignity. As the grandson and nephew of lifelong steelworkers, Lou understands how important it is for retirees to have a decent pension and benefits when they retire. That is why Lou is fighting for our retirees who are in jeopardy of losing their benefits.
Lou could have easily set this issue aside because it is being debated in Washington, not Columbus, but once again Lou is a leader who fights for his district. He offered a Senate Resolution urging the United States Congress to pass the Miners Protection Act. I, along with some retired miners, attended the hearing.
This is a bipartisan effort, one that state legislators should embrace. Lou has shown time and again he is behind our retired miners – the question is do the Republican leaders in Columbus support our retired miners? If they do, then they will support SCR 17 urging Congress to pass the Miners Protection Act.
You can tell a lot about a person’s character by how they treat those who have sacrificed for this nation. Lou Gentile has made our veterans a top priority. Lou has successfully advocated for legislation that will provide educational opportunities to Ohio veterans.
Lou’s legislation was so well thought of that Gov. (John) Kasich used it as a model for how the state awards college credit to veterans. But Lou won’t stop there. He is now championing legislation to give incentives to small businesses that hire our veterans as well as a bill that would give tax relief to disabled veterans. We have a large contingent of veterans who are UMWA members, and we appreciate Lou’s efforts helping and protecting all our nation’s veterans.
In 2016 we have a clear choice for state Senate. Let’s continue to support Lou Gentile because he is one of us fighting for all of us.
Erdos is the Ohio political and legislative coordinator for the United Mine Workers and has written and spoken about labor issues for many years. He is a resident of Belmont.