MARTINS FERRY - Candidates for elected office in Belmont County told voters why they believe they should be elected during a political forum Tuesday night.
The Martins Ferry Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the "Meet the Candidates" night at Martins Ferry High School.
First to speak was former U.S. Rep. Charles Wilson, a Democrat, who seeks to regain the 6th District seat he lost to incumbent Rep. Bill Johnson in 2010. The Republican Johnson did not attend.
Wilson spoke of the differences between him and Johnson. Wilson said he would not have voted for trade polices with Columbia, Panama and South Korea that Johnson helped pass in the House.
"He also doesn't believe in bringing money home," Wilson said. "I'm very proud of the money I brought home. During the four years I was in Congress, I brought $383 million back home to the district. ... In my opinion - certainly in the 6th District - I don't feel we should be a donor district. I feel we should get money back."
Incumbent Ohio Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, was first elected to the Ohio House in 2010 and appointed to the Ohio Senate in November. He said during his tenure in the Ohio General Assembly, he feels he has been effective and that he has worked with Republicans to protect the interests of East Ohio.
Republican challenger Shane Thompson, seeking to unseat Gentile, did not attend.
All three candidates for Belmont County commissioner were present and addressed the crowd. They are incumbent Commissioner Matt Coffland, a Democrat, and independent candidates Jerry Echemann and Doug Longenette.
Candidates for sheriff Richard "Dick" Flanagan, a Democrat, and David Lucas, a Republican, told those present why they hope to be elected.
Also speaking were five of the six candidates seeking to be the next Western Division Court judge, succeeding Judge Harry White - Charles Bean, Eric Costine, Kevin Flanagan, Todd Kildow and Helen Yonak. William Thomas was not present.
Though the new 95th District in the Ohio House doesn't encompass Martins Ferry, Charles Daniels, Democratic nominee for the seat, was present for the forum. He pointed out that Belmont County is split in half in terms of representation in the Ohio House.
"And I don't see how you can represent half a county," he noted.
Republican incumbent 7th District Ohio Court of Appeals Judge Mary DeGenaro was on hand, but her opponent Democrat Mark Hanni was not present.
Other candidates present included Ohio Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire; Northern Division Court Judge Frank Fregiato and Belmont County Commissioner Ginny Favede, all of whom are running unopposed.