East Ohio voters decided to return Democrat Lou Gentile to the state Senate on Tuesday.
Gentile, 33, of Steubenville defeated Republican Shane Thompson of Loomis in a bid to represent Ohio's 30th Senate District in Columbus. According to incomplete totals reported by the Ohio Secretary of State's Office, Gentile had captured 63,656 votes over Thompson's 58,882 as of 1:40 a.m. today.
"I'm just grateful to the voters in 30th District for having the confidence in me to represent them in Columbus," Gentile said as it became apparent he had regained the seat. Late results from Jefferson County delayed the reporting of a final tally. "I'm very proud of the way we conducted ourselves in this campaign. We conveyed a positive message about what I will do and what I've done."
Gentile said his top priorities moving forward will be the economy, education and energy development.
"I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve," he added. "I will continue to work as hard as I can ... and work across aisle on energy issues. I think we have a lot of opportunities in energy development in the future.
"And I want to fight really hard for our schools here in southeast Ohio to make sure we get our share of education funding," he continued, noting he hopes to help resolve the way education is funded throughout the Buckeye State.
Gentile was elected to his first term in the Ohio House in 2010 and appointed to the Ohio Senate in December 2011. He previously served as a field representative for Ted Strickland when Strickland served in the U.S. House and is a former assistant director of the Governor's Office of Appalachia.
Gentile previously said he played a role in helping to construct Ohio's current energy policy.
"I won a significant amendment to the Senate Energy Bill which I refer to as the 'Ohio Workers First Amendment.'" he said. "The amendment will encourage the use of Ohio's workers and small businesses in the oil and gas industry. It will require an annual report of the number of local jobs being created and the overall economic impact the industry is having in our state."