To the editor:
I would like to thank state Sen. Lou Gentile, D-Steubenville, and state Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, for participating in the recent roundtable discussion with law enforcement and community leaders in Steubenville and for having the courage to advocate on behalf of the city of Steubenville and all local communities. I applaud their efforts for speaking out against cuts to local governments and for offering numerous legislative proposals to keep police officers and firefighters on the job. Steubenville has seen first hand the impacts of these cuts, our police department has been forced to reduce the number of officers. This trend must be reversed so that we can guarantee the safety of our citizens.
I attended the meeting along with Steubenville's Mayor Domenick Mucci and can assure the citizens of Steubenville that Gentile and Cera are sincere in their approach to helping our community end gun violence. It is important to note that both leaders stayed for the entire meeting, long after the TV cameras were gone and all the news media had departed. Gentile and Cera remained for the entire meeting and were more focused on finding solutions than garnering the spotlight.
One issue that I raised during the meeting is the need to create living wage jobs to lift our citizens out of poverty and restore their dignity. It has become clear to me that our state legislators understand that strengthening the economy for all citizens and providing job opportunities to struggling Ohioans can be a powerful deterrent of criminal behavior.
While we all work collectively to combat the violence that has plagued our great city, we are very fortunate to have the leadership of Cera and Gentile in Columbus. They have been instrumental in gaining the attention of the attorney general and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Because our legislators have a hands-on approach and have built relationships around the state capital, they are well positioned to be part of the solution to help eradicate the violence in Steubenville. Gentile and Cera have both committed to working with the city, the sheriff's office, the prosecutor's office, community and church leaders and the attorney general's office to implement the Safe Neighborhood Initiative, a program designed to curb gun violence by bringing together key community stakeholders and targeting the most violent offenders in the community in an effort to prevent future violence. In addition to supporting this initiative, the lawmakers agreed to work in a bipartisan fashion, alongside Attorney General Mike DeWine to help pass the Armed Violent Career Criminals Act that would stiffen penalties for repeat violent offenders. The bill is currently under consideration in the Ohio Legislature.
Working together as leaders, citizens and a community is the only way we can end the violence in our city. Gentile, Cera and the Steubenville officials are all committed to providing the necessary leadership, at the state and local level, to ensure the safety of the residents in Steubenville.
Angela Kirtdoll Suggs
4th Ward councilwoman