Originally posted on DaytonOS on September 16th, 2011
A DDN article today, “Public Workers’ Political Activity Limited,” tells that one-fourth of the 186 members of the Central Committee of the Montgomery County Democratic Party (MCDP) are employed as Montgomery County government workers, and one-tenth of the 278 members of the Central Committee of the Montgomery County Republican Party (MCRP) are county government workers.
Amazing that the Republican Party, in having a significantly larger number of members of their Central Committee, appear to be more “democratic,” than the Democratic Party. Both parties fall short, since all 360 precincts in the county are eligible to be represented on each party’s Central Committee. But, the Democrats have only 52% of the precincts represented on their Central Committee, while the Republicans have 77% represented.
Interesting that of the small number of active members of MCDP, such a large portion are local government workers. The article explains that Ohio law prohibits “classified” county workers from being members of a political party’s Central Committee, but the law permits “unclassified workers” to be members. A “classified employee” is protected by civil service rules, while an “unclassified” employee “works at the will of elected officials.” The fact that 45 or more members of the Central Committee owe their jobs to Democratic elected officials and have no civil service protection explains a lot about the local party.
The next biggest bloc in the MCDP are Democratic elected officials, themselves. I don’t know how many, but, I’m guessing a dozen, or more (When I get that data I’ll update this post.) The Party Chair, Mark Owens, is an elected official — appointed as Clerk of Dayton Municipal Court in 1991 and regularly reelected. And, the Executive Committee Vice Chair, Karl L. Keith, also, is an elected official — appointed Montgomery County Auditor in December 2000 and reelected ever since.
The inside clique of the local party actively suppresses participation of Democrats in primaries, preferring to hand pick candidates. They suppress membership in the Central Committee — refusing to advertise to uninformed Democrats the opportunity to be part of the Reorganization Meeting that happens every four years. .
I’ve been a member of the MCDP Central Committee since 2006, and have met many wonderful, dedicated, and well meaning people in the Party. But, the problem is, too many practices of the Party are antidemocratic, and, the result is, the Party is failing to attract young people to meaningful leadership, failing to generate strong Democratic candidates, failing to articulate a progressive vision that would inspire and unite citizens into active participation.
The Party cannot expect to achieve its potential, so long as it clings to its antidemocratic practices. It seems one big factor, making these practices difficult to change, is the fact that the MCDP is essentially controlled by members, who, because of their employment or elected office status, have a personal economic interest in maintaining the status quo.