The Huron County Democratic Party re-elected Karen Prelipp to a four-year term as chairwoman at its quadrennial re-organizational meeting, which took place on June 1st in uptown Norwalk.
The meeting began with a moment of silence for John Elmlinger, who died May 23. Elmlinger is revered by many as a model public servant for his time in office, which included 10 years as county recorder and 20 years as county auditor.
Other party officers re-elected four-year terms were Keith Sexton as first vice chair, Christina Raftery as treasurer and Helen Wheeler as secretary. Also, Ginger Packert was elected as 2nd vice chair, replacing Dennis Stieber, who is moving out of state.
Only the central committee precinct chairs elected at the May 3, 2022, primary are eligible to vote for new officers. In that way all offices are rooted in a vote of the people.
Chair Prelipp reminded party membeers that we have recently adopted the Democratic Creed from the "Democrats 101" movement. She said that we share the same values with other Americans, though we may differ on structure and policy. She said that we need to build a coalition based on these shared values and not let ourselves be divided by differences. Prelipp also said that county Democrats need to speak up and define the party, and not leave that to others.
Chair Prelipp invited several guests to speak.
Carrie Harman is the Ohio Democratic Party organizational leader for the northwest quadrant. She said she can help with county party planning and training, using ODP resources.
Craig Swartz is the candidate for Congress in the Fifth District. Born and raised in Cleveland, Swartz traveled and worked abroad for 20 years. That provided him with perspective and insight into problems we struggle with here -- immigration issues, employment training and opportunities. He owned and operated a restaurant in Upper Sandusky for 8 years but closed it during the Covid pandemic. During his time as a city councilman in Upper Sandusky, he watched his community loose three union shops and thousands of jobs, decimating the community. He has adopted the slogan "Have faith in the face of fear." He encouraged party members to get out there, speak loudly, be empathetic and make it better for the next generation.
Bryan Burgess is the candidate for state representative in the 54th District. He is a personal friend of Joe Miller, the state representative from Amherst who has been gerrymandered out of his district. Burgess is in his fifth term on the Oberlin City council. Born and raised in Oberlin, he attended university in New Mexico and taught school in Las Cruses, NM, for three years. Later, his dad called and asked him to return home to go into business together. They ran a solar array/wind turbine installation business for a number of years. He notes, "We’re all busy, but our democracy is under attack. It’s time to do something!"
John Kolesar is running for a seat on the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals. He was a public defender for a year and a half in Seneca County, served as Sandusky County prosecutor for 8 years, is currently a Sandusky County judge of the past 13 years. He graduated from the University of Dayton School of Law in 1995 and has lived and worked in Ohio his whole career. Executive Committee member Russ Leffler knows Kolesar, and noted that he is a leader in an effort to get reasonable bonds for the accused – so that people who have money don't get out of jail pending adjudication, while those with little or no money must sit in jail.
Robert Tucker is also running for the seat on the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals. He is a native of Toledo and a civil litigator for a Toledo law firm, working primarily with trust and estate disputes. He wants to serve the community in northwest Ohio.
County Auditor and Central Committee member Roland Tkach took a moment to thank everyone and said he’s running for Huron County Auditor unopposed. He paid heartfelt tribute to John Elmlinger as a mentor and friend.
Dennis Stieber also paid heartfelt tribute to John Elmlinger. Stieber is moving on July 5th to join family in the Dallas, Texas area, and, he says, to turn a little corner of that part of the world purple. In parting he says: "Do not give up!"
The crowd gave Stieber a standing ovation for his long service to the county and party.