Jefferson County Republican Party looks to draw on diversity

LOOKING AHEAD — Leaders of the Jefferson County Republican Party discuss future plans. They include, from left, Tom Gentile and Brian Scarpone, vice chairman and chairman of the executive committee; and the Rev. Nate Freeman and Kimberly Hahn, chairman and vice chairman of the central committee. -- Warren Scott

STEUBENVILLE — Those among the new slate of officers for the Jefferson County Republican Party hope to draw voters of diverse backgrounds and cultures by stressing the common goals and values they share.

“This area still needs jobs. And like a lot of areas, we have a drug problem,” said the Rev. Nate Freeman, who said he and other leaders of the Jefferson County GOP want to find solutions to such problems while supporting values, including the sanctity of life and the importance of family, held by many Ohio Valley residents.

He added he will advocate for small businesses, which he said are a vital but often underappreciated segment of the economy.

The party’s first Black central committee chairman, Freeman is joined by Kimberly Hahn, the committee’s vice chair; and Brian Scarpone and Tom Gentile, vice chairman and chairman, respectively, of the party’s executive committee.

Scarpone expressed similar sentiments, saying, “We see a lot of people from different walks of life coming together over these values.”

He said the Jefferson County Republican Party will continue to push for responsible spending and efficient service at all levels of government while working toward a prosperous local economy that will benefit everyone.

“The values of the Republican Party are the values of the Ohio Valley,” said Hahn.

Gentile added, “We’ve got an incredible team and really big things in the works for the community.”

He said the central and executive committees are comprised of well-educated and accomplished community members who come from diverse backgrounds but share common attitudes.

To attract new members, the party has established a new website at jeffersoncountyohiogop.com.

Matt Parise served previously as the Jefferson County GOP chairman.

Perhaps an indication of a growing role of minorities in local politics, Freeman’s election to central committee chair follows the election in June of Robert Martin as the first Black chairman of the Jefferson County Democratic Party.

A Steubenville native, Freeman graduated in 1989 graduate from Steubenville High School, where he played on the state runner=up football team. He furthered his studies at Valor Christian College in Columbus and Franciscan University of Steubenville, graduating cum laude from the latter school with a degree in

At age 2 he experienced a diabetic coma and became legally blind following surgery intended to correct eye problems spurred by the disease.

Freeman said as a student at Franciscan University, he had a habit of taking notes though he couldn’t see them because doing so helped him to remember details from the lectures. He said one day he looked down to see vague letters on his papers and gradually his vision returned.

Asked if doctors were able to explain it, Freeman said, “They don’t know. It’s literally a miracle.”

He noted through the generosity of organ donors, he received a new pancreas and kidney in 2011 and no longer has diabetes.

Such developments inspired and supported his decision to enter the ministry, and he currently serves as pastor of the First Christian Church of Steubenville. Freeman also ministers through social media and regular television shows aired regionally and internationally.

Freeman also worked for many years for the Social Security Administration, for which he was selected to oversee an $8 million program charged with providing housing for the homeless. His work with the federal agency included positions in East Liverpool, Columbus and Baltimore.

The son of a white high school secretary and a Black steelworker, Freeman said, “I was aware of racial differences but I always look at people as people.”

He said finding common values and working toward shared goals will help to bring more unity to the country.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)


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