Executive Central Committee Meeting, February 15, 2024

The Delaware County Democratic Party met on February 15, 2024 at Delaware Township Hall. Present in the meeting were 54 individuals, 39 of whom were members of Executive Committee, constituting a quorum. Chair Watkins called the meeting to order at 7:08 p.m.

Cory Hoffman led the committee in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Minutes from January Meeting

Mary Kate Pembroke requested her remarks thanking her supporters be simplified to a general statement rather than listing each volunteer.

Joe Diamond moved to approve the minutes as revised and was seconded by Emma Jones. The motion passed unanimously.

Treasurer’s Report

Treasurer Saponaro explained the Treasurer’s Report was brief, as only one month had passed thus far. She noted the summary report showed expenditures for party maintenance and communications. She further explained the Opportunity Fund was used as a pass-thru for the MLK Jr Breakfast event.

Treasurer Saponaro noted the party had $31,537.09 in total funds at the end of January, roughly $19,000 of which was in the Executive account, with a further $2,000 in the State Candidate fund and $10,000 in the Restricted, Scholarship, and CD accounts. She stated the end of January marked 8% of the year having passed, with only 2% of the budget spent.

Treasurer Saponaro informed the committee there were 55 recurring donations and 15 one-time donations in the month of January.

Chair Watkins thanked Treasurer Saponaro for her thorough report.

Tony Yankus echoed Chair Watkins’s thanks and moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report. The motion was seconded by Emma Jones and passed unanimously.

Olentangy Schools Levies

Chair Watkins introduced Brandon Lester and Tracy MacDowell, representatives for the Olentangy Local School District.

Mr. Lester thanked the committee for allowing him to present his argument in favor of the Olentangy Local Schools bond issue and levies. He explained the school district is the fourth largest in the state, with over 24,000 students, and growth was projected to continue, with another 500 students added per year over the next ten years.

He explained he was elected to the school board in 2021 and ran on teaching empathy, positivity, and good citizenry, though overcrowding and growth would hamper those efforts.

Mr. Lester explained the current levy was the lowest levy ask in the last 30 years and would allow the district to construct three new elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school. He stated there was a great deal of misinformation regarding the levy circulating in the community and encouraged committee members to reach out for information.

Mr. Lester further stated his belief the election would have a low turnout, so voting in favor of and promoting the levy was critical.

Ms. MacDowell explained she represented Olentangy For Kids, a PAC promoting the levy. She noted she raised four children in the school district, all of whom received outstanding educations.

Ms. MacDowell added that a video was circulating in which the total cost per $100,000 in property value was greatly inflated and that Olentangy Local School District does not increase bond millage. She noted the levy would cost $149 for every $100,000 in property valuation.

It was inquired whether older schools would be updated using funds provided by the levy.

Mr. Lester explained the levy included 1.25 mills for permanent improvements, including upgrades at Shanahan Middle School, the oldest in the district. He explained a stage would be added to the school and window/roof upgrades would be addressed for the district’s older buildings.

Ms. MacDowell explained the funding would also allow for every building to have increased security.

It was inquired whether the district or PAC had reached out to labor unions. Mr. Lester explained the district had a great relationship with the labor unions and teachers’ union members had donated personally to the PAC.

Chair Watkins explained the party would not endorse the issue, but would support voting in favor of the bond issue and levies.

Delaware City Income Tax Issues

Mr. Hoffman informed the committee he represented the third ward in the City of Delaware, part of which lies within Olentangy Local School District. He stated his daughter attends an Olentangy school and, following the loss of her younger brother, she was doing better than ever thanks to the support she received from the district.

Mr. Hoffman explained Delaware City residents would see two income tax levies on the ballot–the first, a continuing levy for 0.15% to pay off the YMCA and allow for improvements at Mingo Park, and the second adding 0.35% to pay for improvements to roads and infrastructure. 

Mr. Hoffman noted that new developments pay for their street maintenance through HOA fees, though older streets do not have an income stream to cover their maintenance. He explained the levy would allow for 100 of the 195 streets in need of repair to be repaved within five years, with every alley also being repaved and fixed.

Mr. Hoffman noted that an individual with an annual income of $85,000 would pay just $25 per month, receiving freshly paved streets and updated equipment at Mingo Park as a result.

It was inquired whether any groups have endorsed the levies. Mr. Hoffman explained the PAC Delaware Forward had endorsed the levies and meetings would be held with labor unions and other entities in the coming days.

Mr. Hoffman noted the levy would allow for biking and walking trails to connect the various Preservation Parks and connect Delaware to Columbus for pedestrians.

It was inquired whether older parks would be upgraded. Mr. Hoffman explained that paying off the YMCA would allow the city to reinvest into other parks, including Ross Street Park.

Vote411.org, League of Women Voters

Ann Wennberg addressed the committee on behalf of the League of Women Voters. She explained the newspaper no longer provides voter guides, but one was available online at vote411.org. She encouraged anyone who would appear on the ballot to reach out to have their information added to the website.

Candidate Support Committee

Joyce Bourgault explained the Candidate Support Committee was busy as ever, preparing for interviews and reviewing questionnaires. She stated she hoped to have more money available in the state candidate fund, as well as an increased partnership with candidates in order to offer more support.

Ms. Bourgault encouraged any candidate in attendance to stand up and address the committee.

Christian Smith, candidate for Ohio’s 61st House District, informed the committee he lost his treasurer and was looking for a volunteer so he could begin receiving donations.

Mary Kate Pembroke spoke on behalf of David Hogan, a candidate for the same office. She explained things were going well and the annual campaign finance report was filed with the Board of Elections. She added she was unsure what sort of help was needed, but encouraged committee members to reach out if they would like to assist in the campaign.

Treasurer Saponaro spoke on behalf of Rachael Morocco, candidate for Ohio’s 60th House District. She informed the committee a kickoff party would be held at Afficionado’s on February 27.

Garrett Sohnly informed the committee he was running for County Commissioner against Commissioner Merrell and had submitted his Designation of Treasurer and opened an account for donations.

Tonya Griffith, candidate for County Recorder, informed the committee she had a treasurer, though she was concerned she may need a backup treasurer and web designer moving forward.

Steve Thomas, candidate for Ohio’s 4th Congressional District, informed the committee his campaign was doing well and he had a great television interview in Lima. He noted that Dave Berger, longtime mayor of Lima, had endorsed his candidacy on Facebook.

Young Dems

Joe Bjorkman informed the committee that Delaware County Young Dems was now a chartered organization with six officers and an approved constitution. He stated the team was planning their first meeting and was excited to move forward.

Communications Committee

Don Swartwout encouraged candidates to reach out with their online presence so links could be added to the party’s website. He added a volunteer was needed to prepare posts for the various holidays.


Marya Kolman informed the committee a “Meet the Candidates” event would be held on February 29 at Genoa Township Hall and encouraged committee members to attend.

Chair Watkins informed the committee petitions opposing gerrymandering would be distributed throughout the region, with Vice Chair Hanson reaching out to region leaders and Doug Babcock working as a courier to deliver them to Columbus.

Chair Watkins informed the committee an event with Sherrod Brown would be held on April 12, though details could not be shared for security reasons.

Chandler White expressed support for Teri Jamison for the office of Justice of the Supreme Court, noting that Ms. Jamison had raised $900,000 while her opponent, Lisa Forbes, raised only $145. He urged committee members to vote their conscience and support Ms. Jamison.

André Washington spoke as Vice Chair of the Ohio Democratic Party and explained the state party had given candidates the opportunity to be considered for endorsement. While both candidates are good people, only Judge Forbes has the Democratic Party’s endorsement.

Linda Diamond informed the committee that membership cards were sent out to donors to the party. 

Joe Diamond informed the committee Bishop Backers would take place the following weekend and encouraged committee members to attend.

Reorganizational Meeting

Chair Watkins informed the committee a reorganizational meeting would take place April 11 to elect officers for the party. She stated she, Joydeep Gupta, Holly Hanson, and Treasurer Saponaro would be running for reelection, but we may need a new candidate for party Secretary. Peg encouraged anyone interested to reach out, since these are elected offices. She reminded the committee that, in order to vote for the office of Chair of the party, one must be an elected member of Central Committee.

Parliamentarian Osorio encouraged anyone who was interested in learning about Robert’s Rules to reach out to her, even outside of meetings.

Finding no further business, James Sipek moved to adjourn the meeting and was seconded by Emma Jones. The motion passed unanimously and the meeting ended at 8:17 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Corey McCaffery, Secretary