Next Tuesday, May 4, a small number of Athens County Democrats will determine the future direction of their local party. If you're not a registered Democrat who's interested in your present representative to the county party, you can quit reading right here.
If you are a registered Democrat, vote in primaries and would like to be involved in how your Athens County Democratic Party is run, then read on.
Susan Gwinn's 12-year tenure as Athens County Democratic Party chair ended with her resignation in January following criminal convictions on misdemeanor charges of falsification. She was acquitted of four felonies.
While her tenure as party chair ended with the abrupt exclamation point of criminal charges, even without all that, Gwinn leaves a legacy of extreme partisan politics, authoritative rule, intra-party conflict and backstabbing. Gwinn made all local party politics partisan, and she made all of the important party decisions herself.
Hard working and tireless, Gwinn systematically filled the vast majority of county Democratic Party Central Committee precinct member seats with her most loyal supporters. Many of these people enthusiastically applauded her refusal to step down as party chair after her criminal indictment last fall.
While Gwinn is no longer county Democratic Party chair, her supporters hold the vast majority of the current Central Committee seats. Many of these Gwinn loyalists would re-elect her as party chair if she chose to make a comeback. When Gwinn finally did step down in January, one of her biggest public supporters and defenders throughout her legal battle, Athens City Council President Bill Bias, was elected to replace her as party chair without opposition, by acclamation.
The fact that Gwinn is seeking re-election to her own current Central Committee seat is telling. Without a large turnover in these precinct spots, little will change in the Athens County Democratic Party.
While this newspaper doesn't normally endorse in political party committee races, in this case we make an exception. More than any other political position in Athens County, the Democratic Party chair has an enormous amount of say in who eventually will serve in city and county offices.
For these reasons, we endorse the reform candidates, many of them supported by The Party for All, a new group seeking to reform the county Democratic Party. While many of the non-endorsed candidates are good, hard-working people, we believe that the need to change the direction of the party is the most important consideration.
In many precincts, candidates are running unopposed, but in contested races, we endorse the following candidates:
Athens Ward 1, Precinct 1 "“ Beverly Flanigan
Athens 1-3 "“ Patrick Brown
Athens 1-4 "“ Janet Polzer
Athens 1-5 "“ Cassidy O'Brien
Athens 2-1"“ Jeana Davis
Athens 3-1 "“ Martina Bell
Athens 3 "“3 "“ Kyle Stahr
Athens 3-4 "“ Mary Diles
Athens 3-5 "“ Lilian Alfano
Athens 3-6 "“ Michele Papai
Athens 3-7 "“ James Coady
Athens 3-8 "“ C. Sam VanNostrand
Athens 4-1 "“ Alan Swank
Athens 4-2 "“ John Keener
Athens 4-3 "“ John Gutekanst
Athens 4-4 "“ Susan Roth
Nelsonville 1-1 "“ Judith Sinnott
Nelsonville 1-2 "“ Travis Elliott
Nelsonville 3-1 "“ Keller Blackburn
Nelsonville 3-2 "“ Robert Baughman
Nelsonville 4-2 "“ Parrie Warren
Alexander East "“ Charles Grubbs
Ames Twp. "“ Sharon Dishong
Athens East "“ William Lavelle
Athens South "“ Tommy Adkins
Plains 2 "“ David Urano
Canaan South "“ Jules Sturbois
Chauncey "“ Thomas Baggs
Circle Hill "“ Lynda Bolin
Millfield "“ Tara Sayre
Sugar Creek "“ Gretchen Stephens
Albany "“ Joyce Bobo
Lee Twp. "“ Deborah Arnold
Lodi Twp. "“ Richard Howard
Guysville "“ Robert Borchard
Stewart "“ Beverly Dixon
Glouster 2 "“ Larry Bycofski
Glouster 4 "“ Lou Anna Lenigar
Troy East "“ Bonnie Kibble
Troy West "“ George Gilbert
New Marshfield "“ Jane Elekes
Waterloo West "“ Joshua Eskey
York West "“ Clifford Warren
Failure to elect new people to run the Athens County Democratic Party will ensure Susan Gwinn's continued influence in the local party's affairs. It's time for a clean break from the past. Support reform in the local Democratic Party.