Belmont County Democrats celebrated the founders of their party at the 54th annual Jefferson - Jackson Day Dinner.
Local party leaders brought in Ohio statewide hopefuls for the executive branch of state government, led by Ed Fitzgerald, running for the governor's seat. Newly announced candidate for state auditor John Carney also came to rally Democrat party faithful, pledging more transparency in the Auditor's office.
Carney said, "The only way to hold your elected officials accountable is to make sure you understand how your money's being spent, and how it's benefiting people in southeastern Ohio." He continued, "As auditor, I'd make sure you have an accounting for every cent, and understand how much is coming back to your local community."
Ed Fitzgerald, who wants to replace current Ohio Governor John Kasich, also stressed the view state government needs more transparency, especially in regard to the JobsOhio program.
"Open the books. It's the public's money. The public has a right to know how that money is used. The fact that John Kasich is taking public money and saying, 'It's a secret' - and he doesn't have to say how that money is used - is a terrible idea," he said.
Fitzgerald then brought up the specter of wrongdoing. "I think it's an idea that leads to corruption, quite frankly. I mean, look. If something is public money, the public has a right to know. That's the bottom line," he said.
U.S. House of Representatives hopeful Jennifer Garrison stressed her local roots to Belmont County Democrat faithful, accusing current U.S. Representative Bill Johnson of "district shopping." Garrison said, "Bill Johnson isn't from here. He 'shopped' the district to see where he was going to run. He pulled -- he wanted to run in the 17th Congressional district, and he - then he decided to run in the 6th. He's only lived in the district two years."
Over 150 came to the dinner. Democrat party campaign officials say they believe the Republicans had only a slim margin of victory in the last statewide election, and a concerted get-out-the-vote effort will bring their candidate into the governor's seat in 2014.