STEUBENVILLE - Lou Gentile of Steubenville was elected to the 30th District state Senate seat he was appointed to 11 months ago, defeating Republican challenger Shane Thompson of St. Clairsville in a highly contested race.
According to the Ohio Secretary of State's official Website, Gentile, the Democrat incumbent garnered 76,164 votes, while Thompson garnered 68,102 votes Tuesday in the unofficial results.
"I want to thank all of the voters of the 30th District who have given me an opportunity to continue serving the residents of Eastern Ohio in Columbus. We ran an honorable campaign and I thoroughly explained to the voters what I had done in Columbus and what I planned to do. We kept our message upbeat throughout this election process," said Gentile early today.
"I am very grateful to the voters of Eastern Ohio because they have given me another four years to create jobs.
"I want to focus on the economy and public education during the next four years. Education will be crucial as we prepare for a successful future," cited Gentile.
"I have a very competent staff in place in Columbus and together we will continue to work hard for our constituents," he added.
Thompson called the entire campaign "very humbling."
"I am disappointed in the results, but I am grateful for the opportunity to run for the office. I wish the best for Lou as he returns to the state Senate. And I thank everyone who helped with my campaign. My disappointment is focused on those who volunteered or donated to the campaign or helped in some way," Thompson said today.
Gentile was declared the winner in five counties, including Jefferson, Athens, Belmont, Harrison and Monroe.
Thompson won the majority of votes in Carroll, Meigs, Noble, Vinton and Washington counties.
Gentile was appointed to the 30th District Senate seat in December 2011 after former state Senator Jason Wilson stepped down to accept a position in the Gov. John Kasich administration.
The 33-year-old Gentile had won his first political race when he ran for the 95th District state representative seat in 2010.
His first job in Ohio politics came 10 years earlier when he went to work for former U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland.
Gentile remained with Strickland during his successful run for the Ohio governor's job, and Strickland appointed Gentile as assistant director of the Governor's Office of Appalachia.
"I am proud of the work I have done. I have been in public service for several years now," said Gentile during the campaign.
"The issues we face these days are not new to me. I come from a family background where I was taught to give back to my community. My commitment to the residents of Eastern Ohio is real and sincere. I have been an effective legislator. I have been effective in working on a bi-partisan level in the Ohio General Assembly. As a member of the minority in the state Senate, I have been able to accomplish success by working with both Democrats and Republicans," Gentile noted.
"I support the responsible use of our natural resources as well as renewable energy. I have encouraged out-of-state industries to hire local building and trades workers.
"And I won bi-partisan support for transparency on where the jobs in the growing drilling industry are going. I have also worked to make sure the energy industry benefits the local economy," continued Gentile.
"I have also called for the disclosure of the steel used on pipelines and oil rigs to make sure it is American made steel," Gentile said.