THE GENERAL election stumping, save for one day, is over.
While thousands of local voters have cast their ballots early, me being one, we urge those who haven't done so to get to the polls Tuesday. While no presidential contest is being decided, this election has taken on a passionate and all-too often bitter overtone.
Both political parties have unloaded both barrels in state races. The gubernatorial contest has become razor-close, with Republican John Kasich appearing to hold a slim lead over incumbent Ted Strickland. Regardless of the outcome, we will be glad to see the campaign rhetoric come to an end.
Strickland-Kasich is the headliner, but local races are the meat-and-potatoes of any election.
The marquee contest, as we see it, is the three-way battle for the Belmont County Eastern Division Court judge's post. Going alphabetically, Charlie Bean, David Trouten and John Vavra all have waged active campaigns. What is intriguing is the fact all three are St. Clairsville residents, which may play havoc with how the votes shake out.
Incumbent Belmont County Commissioner Chuck Probst is facing a spirited challenge from Republican Diana Kennon. Incumbent Democrats are tough to beat in Belmont County, but Kennon has been aggressive in her campaigning.
One race I do not expect to be close is the 95th House of Representatives race between Democrat Lou Gentile and Independent Mark Clark. Gentile easily prevailed in a crowded primary race and is well-groomed for the post, despite his tender age. Gentile has political future that we see as having no ceiling.
CONCERNING LEVIES, one that I foresee passing with little trouble -- despite the depressed economy -- is the Belmont County Senior Services Levy. The levy helps fund needed services such as nutrition, in-home care, transportation and senior centers. Belmont Countians have historically stepped up to help our older generation. Without levy funds our senior citizens would suffer some major cutbacks. I hope that doesn't happen.
I am intrigued by the St. Clairsville 1-percent income tax issue. I have always been impressed that St. C. needed no income tax. Now since city officials are seeking one, a legitimate need must exist.
The Bellaire School District is again seeking approval of a 12.9-mill levy to help the district escape its debt. The levy was soundly defeated in the primary and may face tough sledding again. Unfortunately, more teaching cuts loom should the levy again meet with defeat.
IN WEST VIRGINIA, I am still a big Joe Manchin fan. I expect the governor to post a convincing win over GOP rival John Raese. Mike Oliverio and David McKinley are a tossup for the U.S. Congressional seat, in a race which was heavily steeped in mud slinging.
THE CHANGE of athletic seasons waits for no one. As the regular season ended for prep football this weekend, official girls' basketball practice began Friday with the boys slated to begin this coming Friday. The girls may commence playing regular-season games on Nov. 26 and the boys a week later.
FORMER BELLAIRE High and Ohio State great Joe Galloway has landed eight catches this year for the Washington Redskins.
BUCKEYE LOCAL is the latest Eastern Ohio school district planning to begin drug testing of its student-athletes. The move came Monday and Buckeye will join Martins Ferry, Barnesville and Cambridge as local school districts with drug testing in place. I said once Martins Ferry put in its program, many other districts would follow suit. Barnesville and Buckeye did just that. It is only a matter of time before more local school districts do the same.
WHILE NETWORK television despises it, this World Series is a nice refreshing change of scenery. No one could have predicted a Texas-Frisco Fall Classic prior to the season. It just goes to prove that over the course of 162 games, the best teams qualify for the post-season. After that, the hottest clubs make the Series.
LAST WEEK'S local unemployment figures came as no surprise. Most local counties realized a minimal improvement but the jobless picture still remains depressing. All the political candidates make job creation a platform pitch. They should promise: quick and well-paying job creation.
I WOULD like to close by thanking Bridgeport Superintendent of Schools Ted Downing, the board of education and Treasurer Cheryl Pritts for their nice recognition of The Times Leader during Wednesday's board meeting. Bridgeport schools have a good thing going, one reason being superb leadership.
Kapral may be reached at bkapral@timesleader online.com