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Change Is Always Happening

I am glad to see that we have finally got a new elections commissioner.

There are some on the Democratic Committee who are now calling for reconciliation within the committee. Let me dispel the notion that there was this great schism within the ranks. The county Democratic Committee is made up of fellow Democrats who are usually long-time members of the party and are active in recruiting, fundraising and helping candidates get elected to office.

In recent years there have been some folks who expressed an interest in becoming involved in the process and both the County Committee and the various town, village, and city committees welcomed them into the ranks. Some of the ideas that came forth were a bit too liberal to be integrated into the process immediately.

Now you can assume that we are in general a pretty liberal group and are open to change in whatever form it may take. But there are rules that need to be followed and govern how things are done. First, there is state Election Law and then there are bylaws of the county Democratic Committee and there may even be bylaws for the other various committees in the cities towns and villages. Everyone who is on a Democratic Committee is a member of the county committee and their participation in the various other committees does not mean that they are able to act in an autonomous way. Everything regarding how these committees conduct their individual business is public knowledge and none of it is hidden away or spurious. You can go the state Board of Elections website of the county Democratic website and see them for yourself.

After this rather long-winded explanation of how things work, I would like to address the concerns of some members of the committee and some of our elected officials. The process of choosing a new candidate to be the Democratic Election Commissioner was an open and above-board process. The chairman made a request to all the members to submit any and all names of people who might be interested in the job and what they had for qualification to do the job. The only two names that surfaced were the existing deputy commissioner and the secretary of the county committee. Both names were placed on a ballot and mailed to every current member of the committee. The ballots were to be returned to a local attorney’s office (who was also a former Jamestown City Court Judge). They were placed in a locked ballot box and at the designated time they were opened and counted on a live Facebook broadcast. The result of the balloting was that Luz Torres, the deputy commissioner, was elected.

There is a weighted voting system within the county committee. Each member gets a weighted vote through a somewhat cumbersome process to assure that the committee members vote is representative of the number of voters in that election district. Weighted voting was unanimously voted in a few years ago at a full committee meeting and has never been questioned until now. Incidentally, when I am referring to the above balloting the number of actual votes, not the weighted vote, still determined that the winner was the winner.

In recent months there have been some committee members, most of them elected or appointed in the past few years, who have tried to circumvent the rules and the law and go in a direction that is in direct conflict with those rules. Around a dozen of those committee members have opted to resign from the committee. I thank them for their service and wish them the best in the future and hope that they stay involved in their communities and be the agents of change we so desperately need.

Change is always happening. I am seeing an evolution in the City of Jamestown Democratic Committee and think that it is encouraging to see younger community leaders becoming involved in the process. Fresh ideas and new thinking are going to be necessary if we are to grow and prosper. The veteran committee members are a resource and wealth of knowledge of the past and that knowledge will be the basis for change in the future as the Democratic Party evolves and moves ahead.

Leadership is an acquired skill that needs to be recognized, nurtured and encouraged. Tomorrow’s leaders and here today and some of us currently in those positions need to recognize that the future is theirs and they will evolve.

Jim Walton is the current City Democratic Committee chairman, a former county department head, businessman and developer in Jamestown.

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