BELMONT COUNTY, Ohio (WTOV)— A debate will be held Tuesday in Martins Ferry High School as four candidates vying for the democratic nomination for Ohio Governor will square off.
Why Martins Ferry?
“I think the message democratic leaders across the state are saying is they don't want to give up on the voters of eastern Ohio,” Former Ohio Senator Lou Gentile said. “They're placing an emphasis on trying to compete here and win here.”
Gentile has worked with all four candidates – Betty Sutton, Connie Pillich, Joe Schiavoni, and Nan Whaley.
"Ultimately, we need somebody that can be effective and move us forward into the future,” Gentile said. “I think that all four candidates in the democratic party are going to offer a vision for where the state of Ohio will go."
Sutton is a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing a district stretching from Youngstown to Kent, Ohio. She was also a member of the Obama Administration.
"One of the things she's noted for is the Cash for Clunkers program, which saved a lot of jobs in the auto industry. When President Obama and members of Congress stepped forward to bail out the industry, she was a big part of protecting those jobs, which had an impact all over the state of Ohio,” Gentile said.
Pillich comes from Montgomery County and is a veteran of the United States Air Force.
"She focused a lot on issues pertaining to veterans in the military,” Gentile said. “As someone who served and who is a vet, she knows first-hand the issues they face. Look here in the Ohio Valley, eastern Ohio in particular, (there are) a lot of veterans. A lot of people served."
Schiavone is a name that should be familiar to many in the Ohio valley
"Senator Schiavone has been really going around the state talking about jobs, talking about the economy. He's really known for his efforts for public education,” Gentile said.
"And recently he's put together a bipartisan effort around broadband, which is really important for rural areas.”
Whaley is the mayor of Dayton and the only candidate to have not served in the state or federal government.
"I don't think you can discount Mayor Whaley's executive experience,” Gentile said. “She actually runs a city, has to balance a budget. I think that experience is very relevant in the governor's office."
Other candidates can – and may -- throw their hats into the ring.