Following is the text of an address delivered to county democrats on June 17, 2010, by new CCDP Chairman, Stuart Garson.
Thank you very much. I want to thank the members of the Central Committee for your support and the trust you have placed in me. I especially want to thank Pat Britt for all of her help that she has provided to the party this past year. This position is an enormous responsibility, and one that I take very seriously. I gladly and willingly accept the honor of serving as your Chair of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party.
A remarkable set of circumstances has coalesced to bring me to this moment. I have lived in this county for my entire life – 61 years. I was educated at Ohio public schools from grade school, college, graduate school and law school. I grew up just a short distance from here in University Heights on a small street named Tyndall. My friends and I had a standing baseball game every summer night at the Fairmount Circle before Warrensville Center Road cut our ball park in half. We went to the Fairmount Show where 50 cents got you admission, popcorn and candy. I can remember when John Carroll University was just one building with an imposing front lawn. My friends and I were, on occasion, chased out of here by various members of the University staff and clergy as we tried to find our way into the bell tower. It means a great deal to me that this honor is now extended to me in the community of my childhood.
However, tonight – and the work before us – is not about the past. Rather it’s about building a better, stronger community tomorrow and into the future. That remains the work of our Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, and I look forward to leading that effort and always with your help.
As Democrats, we share the foundational belief that government can be an effective partner in solving problems; that we can find fair and equitable ways to spread the benefits and share the burden of problem solving across our broad and diverse community.
Our shared values and beliefs are more important than ever, because too many in our community have been savaged by these difficult economic times and are barely holding on. They deserve a voice, and they need a Democratic party that stands up for them. That’s why we are here.
We have faced enormous challenges in recent years. The good news is we are still very much alive and well. We have been battered, but we are not beaten. But it’s now time for a period of renewal – for our community, and for the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party.
Let me state clearly my goals from the start about how we will operate as a party while I am Chair:
- We will recruit and support the best-qualified candidates who will dedicate their service for the greater good and the prosperity of their constituents.
- We will hold ourselves and our candidates to the very highest ethical standards and ensure that the people of this county can be proud of our Party.
- Inclusion and tolerance will remain one of our bedrock principles, and we will ensure that every race, religion, and gender find a welcome place in our party.
- We will invest in the next generation, and make a priority of mentoring aspiring office holders who are dedicated to public service.
- We will seek partners in the private and non-profit sectors and find ways to work collaboratively with them to make this a better community for all our residents.
- We will work with our elected officials to enhance business opportunities in this region to create jobs that will attract people to reside in our region.
- We will work to ensure that our region receives its fair share of government funds and assistance to provide for the general welfare and prosperity of our residents.
Going forward I will be guided by these principles, as I know you have and will. Further whenever I am required to make a tough call, I will always make my decision based on what I believe to be in the best interests of the Party and the community we serve.
I have heard concerns and ideas expressed by some of you regarding how our party has conducted its business in the past. Some of you have voiced concerns about process, inclusion, fundraising, communication and an array of other issues. You have my pledge that I will continue to listen to you and work to resolve these issues in ways that strengthen our party. But I ask for your patience, because we have a crucial job ahead of us.
November 2nd is just 4 ½ months away. On that day, we will hold major elections that will profoundly affect our community and all of Ohio. There is even more urgency to these elections that I want everyone to appreciate.
Our statistics show that nearly 60% of Cuyahoga County will vote by early voting and absentee. Early voting for November will start on September 28 which is 104 days away. Early voting for the primary for the new offices of the County Executive and the County Council will start on August 3, which is 48 days away. This makes our need to be organized and ready to go as a party even more acute.
We will be electing our first County Executive and an 11 person County Council. If you have not read the new County Charter I urge you to get a copy and read it now. It places extraordinary powers and responsibilities on the County Executive and it is critically important to our community to support and elect our democratic candidates in these important new offices.
We also have crucial state-wide races for the re-election of Governor Ted Strickland, Lt. Governor Yvette McGee Brown, Attorney General Richard Cordray, and Treasurer Kevin Boyce. And we have elections for Mary Ellen O’Shaughnessy for Secretary of State, and David Pepper for State Auditor.
This is also an apportionment year which adds additional significance and importance to the offices of the Governor, Secretary of State and State Auditor. If we win this November in the election of those offices, the Democratic Party will have the opportunity to redraw the State House and Senate districts in a more equitable fashion, giving us a stronger Democratic voice and allowing us to better advocate for Ohio’s working families.
Just this past week the republican-controlled Senate adjourned for the summer with crucial home foreclosure legislation pending that had been passed by the Democratic-controlled House. This legislation would have assisted thousands of Ohioans with home foreclosure relief. As the Plain Dealer said in its editorial on Sunday … “As they repair to their chaise lounges, state Senate Republicans are letting Ohioans take it on the chin.” These November elections matter for all of us.
Beyond the county and state races, we have an exceptional U.S. Senate candidate in Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher. With our help, Lee will join our other great Senator, Sherrod Brown in Washington. Finally, and just as important, we will work to retain Chief Justice Eric Brown of the Ohio Supreme Court and the election of Mary Jane Trapp for Associate Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court.
These are major, consequential races that will chart the future of our county, state and nation. And we only have 4 ½ months to succeed and get this done.
Our party will foster and build an effective and reliable partnership with the Ohio Democratic Party under its chair Chris Redfern. I have been meeting and have had discussions with State Party officials for the past several weeks and they have generously offered us financial aid, staff and other professional services to assist us with our important work this November.
Because so much is riding on the next 4 ½ months, I am asking all party members to make these November elections your highest priority. NOW more than ever we need your efforts for a final push to November. We have signup cards. If you haven’t already, please fill one out and commit to recruit 5 volunteers as soon as you can to assist you with our election efforts. More details will follow, and I look forward to working alongside you this fall to ensure victory for our outstanding candidates. We all have a lot of work to do.
My late father, Barney Garson, was a businessman and he drilled into me the value that ‘thou shall take care of your customer’. The customers of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party are the working men and women of our community. They are the people that get up every day and go to a job, They are the people who get up every day who want a job but can’t find one. They are the elderly and those with physical and mental impairments and others who need our community’s safety net to survive. They deserve our best efforts.
Folks, if we take care of our customers then we will not only remain a party in power, but - equally important - we will be a party of service. The power to elect and the power to serve are the opposite sides of the same coin. We must never forget that our political power derives from our service to the residents of Cuyahoga County and by extension to Ohio and our country.
I cannot do this job alone. Many of you have offered me your prayers and your good wishes but what I need mostly in the next 4 ½ months are your hands. With your support and hard work we can and will prevail in November.
As we all know, this region has some of the finest medical facilities and physicians in the world. I have come to appreciate that our county may be the best place in the world to be sick. But we also have a vibrant pulse. As members of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, let’s see if we can make our community the best place in the world to be healthy.
Thank you again for your support. Let’s get to work.