Electing The Cuyahoga County Democratic Party Chair: A Post-Mortem

On June 9, the Cuyahoga County Democratic Central Committee voted to retain its current leadership for the next four years. 

I cast my votes for the Honorable C. Ellen Connally and Mayor Trevor Elkins because I believe they would bring experience, accountability, and equity to the process by which we elect our county party leaders and endorse Democratic candidates. They ran on a solid platform of much needed process reforms, including shifting from an appointment structure to an election structure for the executive committee (who are akin to super-delegates for those who aren't familiar with their role in the endorsement process); shifting the policy for county party endorsements until after the candidate filing deadline (ensuring that new and emerging candidates have a fair shot at running for office); and ending endorsements for open seat primaries.

These policy and process reforms could do much in unifying a Democratic party whose current structure deeply divides and disenfranchises Democrats whose politics aren't directly in line with the establishment system and want to see a change in how things are done. 

The rise of progressive sentiment in Democratic politics since the 2016 Presidential election is significant because it indicates that what constituents need, want and expect from their elected leaders has changed. And change, though generally looked upon negatively by establishments, is essential to the core of our nation's Democracy. The last Presidential election loss and the scandals that befell the Democratic National Committee indicate that politics-as-usual, and the means that have been traditionally employed to justify those ends, is dead.

Instituting reforms from the Connally/Elkins platform would signal to Democrats from all walks of life that the current leadership, while firm in the values they champion (i.e., fairness, inclusiveness, and compassionate politics) retains the flexibility to adapt how the county party incorporates changes that voters have signified are needed to bring the Democratic Party in line to win elections. 

The need for change does not simply disappear with the re-election of the current party chair. The post-mortem between Cuyahoga County Democrats of different ideologies should focus on reforms that acknowledge the shift of Democratic politics and social thought. It should also take an honest and retrospective look at its recent election losses and identify an inclusive path forward to the next Gubernatorial and Presidential elections. 

The stakes for our community this November are greater than any one person, politician, or party and we need to work towards a system that includes as many folks as passionate about preserving Democratic values as possible. As a member of the Central Committee, I am committed to, and will work towards, those ends. But, I will also hold strong the belief that our system must adapt to a changing environment, must be flexible in its methods, and must be fair in the application of its processes.

Laura Rodriguez-Carbone is a member of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Central Committee representing Lakewood's Precinct 1B; Winner of Crain's Forty Under 40 Award, 2017; Longtime community advocate, leader and public administrator. Currently, Community Outreach Coordinator for Lifebanc.

Laura Rodriguez-Carbone

Member of the Cuyahoga COuntyDemocratic Central Committee Representing Lakewood's Precinct 1B; Winner of Crain's Forty Under 40 Award, 2017; Longtime community advocate, leader and public administrator. Currently, Community Outreach Coordinator for Lifebanc.

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Volume 14, Issue 13, Posted 6:08 PM, 07.03.2018