Democrats Host Picnic Event

Belmont County Commissioner Matt Coffland told county Democrats on Sunday “I’ve done my job,” and he asked them to re-elect him despite his facing a felony charge of assault on a peace officer.

Belmont County Democrats convened for their annual picnic at the Fairpoint Polish-American Club shelter Sunday.

Coffland is accused of throwing a “full bottle or can” at a state liquor control officer while attending Jamboree In The Hills on July 20. Misdemeanor charges previously were filed against Coffland by liquor control following incidents at his Tiger Pub bar in Shadyside last spring.

He is set for trial on Nov. 7 – one day after the Nov. 6 election. But Coffland and his attorney Patrick Cassidy of Wheeling are seeking an earlier day in court.

“There is a lot of stuff being said about Commissioner Matt Coffland,” Coffland told Democrats Sunday. “Let me tell you … when the smoke clears, the truth will come out and I can tell the rest of the story.”

He asked voters for their vote, and pointed to his record as commissioner.

“I’ve done everything I said I would do,” Coffland said. “I work everyday as your county commissioner. I work very hard at it. It’s full time. It’s all the time …. Let me tell you what’s happened in four years.

“Every year since I’ve been there, our debt has gone down. The prior years it went up. Every year we have cut it by at least $500,000.”

Unemployment in the county has dropped during his term, he continued. The county’s unemployment rate was at its highest in February 2010 at 12.1 percent, and is currently at 6.9 percent. Long-term water expansion also have happened.

“Is Belmont County better off today than it was four years ago?” Coffland asked the crowd. “You’re …. right it is …. This happened under my watch in Belmont County, and that is where it counts.”

Others speaking included Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, who said labor unions would come under further attack if Republicans continue to win elections.

“We saw what happened in 2010 when Gov. Kasich got elected,” Gentile said. “We know elections have consequences. Right away, this governor and extreme politicians in Columbus went after working families and tried to take away bargaining rights. Their long-term agenda is to make Ohio a so-called right-to-work state and we cannot let that happen.”

Gentile added he would vote against any attempts to make the state a “right-to-work” state – one where employees could opt not to join a union at their place of employment.

Former congressman Charles Wilson is seeking to regain the Ohio’s 6th District seat this year.

“I’m back in the race because I think it’s a critical time that we have more Democrats in office to be able to support what is going on for working families in our area,” Wilson said.

Republican incumbent “Bill Johnson is not shy about saying is he for a right-to-work state in Ohio – he and Mitt Romney are both for a right-to-work state. We know those are not the values of our area.”

Charles Daniels, Democrat candidate for the state House in the 95th District, said he doesn’t support right-to-work legislation.

He said his opponent, Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marietta, supported Senate Bill 5 passed last year that sought to curb collective bargaining for public employees.

“He has no problem – he would vote for the right-to-work if it comes to the house,” Daniels said. “He is real happy with the state of Ohio right now. I think we’re headed for disaster.”

Candidates for Belmont County Western Division Court were recognized – William Thomas, Todd Kildow, Kevin Flanagan and Helen Yonak. Powhatan Point Mayor Mark McVey spoke on behalf of candidate Charles Bean.

Also addressing the crowd were Mark Hanni, candidate for 7th District court of appeals judge; Conor Craig, president of the Belmont County Young Democrats; and former county party chairman Ed Good, who last week represented Ohio’s 6th District as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention.