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Lawmakers, Party Leaders React To Biden Transition

MARTINS FERRY — Local political leaders are speaking out following the inauguration Wednesday of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States of America.

Phil Wallace, chairman of the Belmont County Democrat Party, is optimistic about the future of the country following Biden’s speech.

“I think it’s a promising move. I’m glad Joe Biden made the statements he did. I think it will heal the brokenness that’s been going on the past three years. I think everything will be moving forward from this point,” he said.

Wallace said he also was happy to see Kamala Harris as vice president.

“With having a vice president who is a person of color is helpful and has been missing over the past several decades. We will, as a country, no longer be divided the way we were. I wish them all the best,” Wallace added.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, who attended the inauguration, released the following statement:

“Today I attended the inauguration of President Joe Biden, as I did for Presidents Trump and Obama before him. It is my hope that the new administration will make a sincere effort to both reach out to and listen to rural Americans who feel increasingly economically and culturally isolated,” Johnson said. “America will only begin healing when political, academic, corporate, and media elites understand that until groups that feel left behind are given the opportunity to fully participate in America’s 21st century economy, our nation will remain deeply and bitterly divided. No matter who is in the Oval Office, or which party controls the House or Senate, I will continue standing up for the men and women I serve in Eastern and Southeastern Ohio.”

On social media Wednesday, Ohio Rep. Don Jones, R-Freeport, said he wanted to remember and relay information regarding the state of the economy and other issues on Donald Trump’s last day as president.

“I am making this post so it will show back up as a future memory on my timeline: Today is the last full day my President Donald J. Trump will be in office. Gasoline is currently $2.15 per gallon. Interest rates are 2.25 percent for a 30 year mortgage. The stock market closed at 30829.40 though we have been fighting COVID for 11 months. Our GDP growth for the 3rd Qtr was 33.1 percent. We had the best economy ever until COVID and it is recovering well. We have not had any new wars or conflicts in the last four years,” Jones wrote.

“North Korea has been under control and has not been testing any missiles. ISIS has not been heard from for over three years. The housing market is the strongest it has been in years. Homes have appreciated at an unbelievable rate and sell well. And let’s not forget that peace deals in the Middle East were signed by four countries — unprecedented! Unemployment sits at 6.7 percent in spite of COVID. #Biden takes over on 1-20-21. Let’s see how this will work out.

This will be something to watch.”

Jones did not mention Biden’s inauguration or speech in his post. On Wednesday evening,Jones noted he did not watch the inauguration speech and therefore had no comment on it.

“I was working,” he said.

Former state senator Lou Gentile, a Democrat from Steubenville, said after listening to Biden’s speech he believes the president will be able to unify the country because of his compassion and empathy for people.

“President Biden made it clear, he will work to unify the country and be a president for all Americans, even those that did not vote for him. As president he will vigorously defend America and our Democracy.”

Gentile said he met Biden’s son, the late Beau Biden, years ago, but that brief meeting revealed much about what the new president and his family are about.

“His experiences shape how he interacts with his fellow Americans. He’s had good times and bad times. He’s someone with great empathy and compassion. That’s a good quality in a leader.”

Gentile believes Biden will put the people’s interests first, rather than his own.

“Today was a great day for America and our democracy. President Biden acknowledged the pain and suffering many Americans have felt this past year. … He’ll work to unify the country and bring prosperity to all,” Gentile said.

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