Democrats close leadership elections
May 26, 2007
To prevent Republicans from taking over leadership of the Summit County Democratic Party, only those signed up as delegates can vote for party officers, a move that changes a decades-old tradition that allowed anyone at conventions to help choose new chairpersons.
"To have justice and integrity you have to be a party which empowers its workers and its participants and does not open the decision making process of choosing officers of that party to the casual passerby and the convenient drop-in who may decide that they want to influence our decisions," Parkite Mike Andrews warned at the Democratic Party organizing convention May 19 at Park City Mountain Resort.
Summit County Auditor Blake Frazier, who is not a registered Democrat, has campaigned as a member of the party for nearly 20 years.
"If I have to check on a piece of paper that I am a Democrat, there is something wrong with that," Frazier told delegates at the convention. "I am what I am [and] if I want to participate in the Democratic Party I should be allowed to."
Summit County Democrats should continue to allow anyone to vote in their primary elections, but only party faithful should cast ballots for party leadership, Andrews countered.
"This is a very, very dynamic party because there are many people involved You need not open it up," Andrews said. "We’re not talking about general elections or primary elections. We are talking about the governance of our party."
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Rob Weyher, the controversial former chairman of the Summit County Democratic Party, was replaced at the convention by Coalville resident Laura Bonham.
"The fact of the matter is, that you would have to go far and wide in this country to find a Democratic Party that does not require the officers of that party to be registered Democrats," Andrews claimed.
But former Summit County Democratic Party chairman Mike Marty insists Andrews’ proposal to close leadership elections is "exclusionary."
Anyone who attends the organizing conventions every two years should be allowed to vote, Marty argued.
"If you want to vote, be a delegate," countered Park City Democrat Elaine Murray. "It’s not that difficult."
Westsider John Hanrahan agreed.
"Why would we want Republicans to come in here and elect our officers?" Hanrahan asked.
Democratic Summit County Commissioner Bob Richer said he supports allowing only delegates who are registered Democrats to elect officers of the party.
"We haven’t been the best group in Summit County dotting our ‘Is’ and crossing our ‘Ts,’ but we’ve managed to win," Richer said.