STEUBENVILLE - If Ohio Gov. John Kasich's State of the State address on Tuesday in Steubenville High School's auditorium could be described with one word, it would be "inspirational," according to Gary Cates, senior vice chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents.
"It was 90 minutes of him reaching into his gut. I can't help but be excited," said Cates.
The crowd reaction seemed to mirror the sentiment that Cates holds, and even the protesters shouting from the balcony seating of the school's auditorium were drowned out by applause for Kasich.
"He did a great job with his speech. It was full of the optimism we are hungry for in our area and everything he said was great news for Ohio," said Jim Carnes of St. Clairsville, who was in the audience.
"I was very impressed. Not many public officials can hold my attention. I hope that a lot of the jobs he talked about come to our area," said John Corrigan, Jefferson County clerk of courts.
When it came down to it, however, what struck a chord with residents most was the discussion of jobs and education.
"It was great that he shared his plans on education and getting our kids ready," said Harry Andrews of Toronto. "The dropout rates he mentioned are terrible, and it's a good thing he is trying to reduce that."
"The most important things to me are jobs and economic development and he is offering a lot of hope in these areas," said Tracey Winbush of Youngstown.
Kasich covered a lot of ground during his 90-minute address, with topics including health care, job production, debt, education and reform.
"He seems to be focused on providing jobs and is in the process of making great strides toward turning things around in Ohio. The jobs he mentioned that are being moved from Mexico to Ohio are among the most important," said Carnes.
"It was a great speech and he touched every base I wanted him to. It's a great day for Steubenville and for Jefferson County," said Sandy Berman of Steubenville. "Education is very important and he touched on the dropout and graduation rates."
This positive community reaction comes despite protests outside of Wells Academy, and while dissidence was present, the overall atmosphere was receptive of the messages that Kasich sent.
"I agree with everything the governor said today," said Winbush. "If we can just put aside the politics and do the right thing, Ohio can make a big comeback."