Executive Central Committee Meeting, February 23, 2023

The Delaware County Democratic Party met at 7:00 p.m. on February 23, 2023 at Delaware Township Hall. Present in the meeting were 47 individuals, 32 of whom were members of the Executive Committee, constituting a quorum. Chair Watkins called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m.

After a quorum was established, Chris Muirfield led the committee in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Chair Watkins introduced Representative Joe Miller and read his bio to the committee.

Representative Miller thanked Chair Watkins and the leadership of the party for his invitation to speak to the committee. He explained there were no other Democrats in state leadership roles between Delaware County and his home in Lorain County.

Representative Miller praised the team making up the Ohio Democratic Party and the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives.

Representative Miller encouraged the committee to assist in finding candidates to fill Ohio House seats and stated the party has a problem educating Democrats. Representative Miller stated democrats have empathy for others, which sets them apart from their counterparts.

Representative Miller addressed the importance of messaging, stating the party needs to improve on the matter to win seats and help others.

Representative Miller argued the Republican Party has convinced voters the Democratic Party does not believe in justice and freedom, and stated the Republican Party would not stand by the message of the Declaration of Independence or Constitution in modern day.

A question was raised regarding redistricting and gerrymandering and Representative Miller clarified the maps were good for four years. He added that Republicans could try to claim they will try to create better maps, though he doubted their commitment to doing so. Representative Miller praised Maureen O’Connor for taking a principled stand on the matter.

Representative Miller noted the race for Speaker of the House was heated and explained the Democratic caucus relented in hopes of having some influence over the state budget.

Representative Miller noted he was always pushing for equality on LGBTQ+ matters.

A question was raised regarding the train wreck in East Palestine, OH. Representative Miller stated the National Transportation Safety Board issued a report that day, but as a member of the Finance Committee, he was not privy to its findings. He noted that Norfolk Southern repaired the tracks but did not address the pollution left behind.

Representative Miller introduced the committee to a book called Democrats 101 and stated it was a great primer to learn about messaging. He went on to highlight the six creeds in the book and the values they espouse.

Representative Miller stated seven counties had thus far adopted the creed of the book and encouraged the committee to consider doing so.

Representative Miller informed the committee there would be a conference held on April 1 at Lorain Community College including representatives from Michigan and Pennsylvania and encouraged committee members to consider attending.

Chair Watkins thanked Representative Miller for attending and speaking to the committee.

Chair Watkins asked if there were any necessary corrections to the January meeting minutes.

Treasurer Saponaro explained there was a mistake in the Treasurer’s Report and clarified what the wording should instead state.

Joe Bjorkman moved to approve the minutes and was seconded by Harold Ramsay. The motion passed unanimously.

Treasurer Saponaro passed out copies of the Treasurer’s Report and explained the party brought in $3,000 in January. She further stated the party spent 2% of its budget, with roughly 8% of the year having already passed.

Treasurer Saponaro explained the biggest expense was in the RAPID line, owing to a pass-through of funds for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast. She added that the second largest expense was toward party maintenance for a storage unit.

Treasurer Saponaro stated she would be opening a fund for state candidates the following Monday and Don Swartwout will modify our website to be able to accept donations to this new fund.

Joydeep Gupta moved to accept the Treasurer’s Report and was seconded by Molly Yankus. The motion passed unanimously.

Additions to Executive Committee: Chair Watkins explained a few members were added to Executive Committee in the prior meeting but were not given the oath.

Pat Meter moved to nominate Jim Hursey to Executive Committee and was seconded by James Sipek. The motion passed unanimously.

At this time, Jim Hursey, Joe Bjorkman, and Will Young took the oath to join the party.

ODP News: Chair Watkins informed the committee that petitions for the right to reproductive freedom were under way and the petition would need 413,000 signatures to make it to the ballot. She explained the Ohio Democratic Party had not yet endorsed the issue, though they were expected to. She added that 10,000 signatures would need to be collected in Delaware County.

Chair Watkins informed the committee an ODP zoom presentation would be held the following week (labeled for Southeast Ohio, but anyone can attend), and two new caucus groups—Pride and Rural Ohio—are being formed.

Chair Watkins informed the committee another ODP Family Reunion is being planned for July.

Chair Watkins informed the committee that Rank the Vote Ohio is hiring organizers to further the cause of ranked choice voting in Ohio.

Chair Watkins noted that Holly Hanson and Guy Fisher will now be leading RAPID, and there will be a meeting to “relaunch” this organizing tool.

Chair Watkins directed the committee to note upcoming events on the agenda and check the party website for information regarding upcoming events.

Candidate Support: Joyce Bourgault explained the Candidate Notebook was ready for distribution and encouraged anyone interested in running to request one.

Donors: Linda Diamond informed the committee that donor cards were present for anyone who donated to the party thus far in 2023. Don Swartwout explained the difference between being a donating member and a party member, noting that anyone can be a member without financially contributing to the party. He further added that, since December 20, 2022, $5,640.36 was raised through ActBlue, with the average donation being $85.

Communications: Mr. Swartwout went on to explain that the website had a new page about the various committees in the Inform menu. He noted the volunteer form was overhauled and a list of union print shops was added.

Mr. Swartwout informed the committee a page was added regarding a showing of the film Rigged: The Voter Suppression Playbook at the Strand Theatre on Monday, March 20, at 7:00 p.m., with a base ticket price of $15. 

Mr. Swartwout stated the party is looking for someone to manage the party’s Instagram page and requested anyone with information regarding candidates reach out to him so the information could be added to the website.

James Sipek noted that Chandler White is running for Delaware City Council and encouraged committee members to attend his kickoff event on March 12 at the Women’s City Club.

Chair Watkins noted a need for volunteers for First Friday in Delaware and Fourth Friday in Westerville.  

Chair Watkins explained there will be no general EC meeting in March due to St. Patrick’s Day and encouraged attendees to go to their regional meetings instead.

Anthony Saadey informed the committee a candidate workshop would be held at the Board of Elections on April 4 and recommended that members attend.

Joe Bjorkman stated he was looking for members under the age of 40 to become active in the Young Democrats committee and encouraged members to give him names of individuals who might become involved.

Finding no further business, Brian Jaffe moved to adjourn the meeting and was seconded by Tamie Wilson. 

Respectfully submitted,

Corey McCaffery, Secretary