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Trumbull County Democrats get compliant

Make changes to align with state, national party rules bylaws

NILES — The Trumbull County Democratic Party’s central committee overhauled its constitution in order to comply with state laws and Ohio Democratic Party / Democratic National Committee rules.

“We are obligated to adhere to ODP regulations and what they deem compliant,” Trumbull Democratic Party Chairman Mark Alberini said after Tuesday’s vote.

He added: “As we are now in compliance, we are set up structurally to be more effective, to be more operationally sound, to be more transparent, to make it as easy as possible to seek election, run for office in the party and as an elected official. It’s a very important first step.”

Trumbull Democratic officials were told May 23 by Bill DeMora, ODP secretary, its constitution had provisions that violated state law and ODP and DNC rules. DeMora required changes be made to be in compliance.

Alberini, elected chairman June 7, said one of his first priorities was to change the bylaws.

Of the party’s 141 central committee members, 76 attended Tuesday’s meeting and unanimously voted in favor of a series of bylaws that not only were required by the ODP, but other changes.

Alberini said a local party bylaws committee spoke often with ODP officials to make sure the constitutional changes were acceptable.

“We’ve got the approval from ODP that we’re in compliance,” he said.

WHAT CHANGED

Two state law violations were removed from the local party’s bylaws: requiring those running for principal offices — chair, first vice chair and secretary — no longer to get the signatures of at least 25 central committee members to seek those positions, and making the treasurer an elected position rather than having the principal officeholders appoint that person.

Those changes were in effect before the June 7 reorganization meeting but were not part of the bylaws until Tuesday’s vote.

Among the Trumbull Democratic bylaws that conflicted with the ODP and the DNC was not making sure the eight other vice chairs elected by region were divided equally between men and women.

Instead, the party chose to eliminate those positions.

The local party also decided to reduce the number of district members by region selected to the executive committee. Instead of 30 districts, there are now 15, and each district will elect a man and a woman to represent them on the executive committee. The equal representation by gender was required by the ODP, but reducing the number of districts wasn’t a state party mandate.

The party eliminated a constitutional provision to give the chairman the authority to appoint 50 people to the executive committee. The ODP had called for those appointments to be subject to approval by the central committee.

To comply with ODP requirements, the 40 at-large executive committee members appointed by the principal officers no longer can be removed by those party leaders, said Gil Blair, the party’s parliamentarian.

OTHER PROVISIONS

Other provisions removed at the insistence of the ODP, Blair said, were a $125 “voluntary” donation to be considered for an endorsement and the “voluntary” payment for candidates for coordinated campaign expenses.

DeMora said the endorsement section violated ODP rules because “even though you state the $125 is ‘voluntary,’ common sense says that if someone doesn’t pay it, it will be used against them.”

The party decided to include a “united” section to its bylaws that doesn’t permit members to “in a general election, actively and publicly in a partisan race oppose the Democratic candidates.”

Punishment for violating the section includes asking for their resignation, suspending that person from party activity and a possible censure by a majority vote of the executive committee.

“They can’t be removed from the central committee as they were elected, but their violation would be publicized,” Blair said.

Kathy DiCristofaro, first vice chairwoman, said if a central committee member votes in a Republican primary, that person is removed because he / she no longer is considered a Democrat and that’s an ODP rule.

The party also changed the names and responsibilities of the 10 standing committees with the heads of those committees appointed to the executive committee at the chairman’s discretion.

Trumbull Democrats last updated its bylaws in 2014 to be in compliance after a disagreement with the ODP over violations including secret paper ballots for elections.

Dan Polivka, who was chairman at the time and still serves as a central committee member, said changes were made at the time to follow ODP rules. He insisted Tuesday the party was still in compliance and DeMora saying otherwise was “total bulls–.”

But Alberini pointed out the ODP had made rules changes in 2016 and 2020 and before Tuesday’s changes the local party “was not in compliance” with those new requirements.

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