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From The Vaults

The Election Demonstrates That The Montgomery County Democratic Party Needs New Leadership, Vision, Energy

David Sparks the Democratic candidate for Ohio’s 43 House District, winning 39.5% of the votes, has written a thoughtful essay analyzing the race. (David won Montgomery County, but was annihilated in Preble County.) Spark’s essay is entitled, There is No Other Time But Now, and it is well worth a read. Here is my response:

David, thanks for your thoughtful analysis. You write that the results of this election should cause Democrats to do “some long overdue and deep introspection” and that Democrats should “invest in a party organizational infrastructure that ensures that there are no forgotten areas or people.” I agree.

Speaking of infrastructure, you did not include in your analysis an important point that many Democrats are not aware of. By state law, in every Ohio county there is an official organization of Democrats that consists of a legislative body, “The Central Committee,” of individuals chosen by election every four years in the spring Democratic Primary. This Central Committee, in turn, chooses officers and amends the constitution that structures the county organization when it deems amendments are necessary. Every precinct in the county may choose one member of the Central Committee.

In the last Central Committee election (2014), the MCDP leadership refused to advertise the election and the result was that county Democrats who otherwise might have become meaningfully engaged in the party organization were unaware of the opportunity. The result was that only 132 out of 360 precincts fielded even one candidate. Why the leadership refuses to work to expand the elected members of the Central Committee is a good question (see articles posted below). The Montgomery County Democratic Party, with its elected Central Committee, should be the backbone of the infrastructure that is needed, but MCDP is failing to fulfill its infrastructure role, and in fact is making only a very weak effort to do so. You write that you want “to keep this discussion disengaged from personalities.” I agree that there is no point in acrimony, but eventually a discussion about MCDP leadership by concerned Democrats will be necessary.

The current MCDP chair is Mark Owens. He works full-time as County Clerk of Courts and by all reports is good at his job. But to build MCDP into the organization that it should be, we need a full-time leader. The fact that Owens and the other county Democrats are continually reelected to their county-wide offices is a point of pride, but the perpetual reelection of this group has contributed to MCDP apathy. The work of the MCDP has pretty much boiled down to maintaining the status quo — and unfortunately the status quo far is from being strong enough to challenge U. S. Congressman Mike Turner or the Republican contingent in the county that is regularly elected to the State Assembly. My conclusion is that the MCDP needs new leadership, a new vision, a new level of energy — if the party is to build the precinct-by-precinct infrastructure needed for the party to realize its potential.

The next chance to elect a new Central Committee and to rewrite the constitution and elect new MCDP leadership will be during the Democratic Primary in 2018. Any county Democratic wanting to serve on the Central Committee will need to submit a petition by January of 2018.

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