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The biggest local electoral issue in this year’s primary election in Columbus is the split in the Democratic Party. Mayor Andrew Ginther, former Mayor Michael Coleman and Congresswoman Joyce Beatty led one faction dead set to punish Sheriff Zach Scott and his supporters, simply because Scott ran for Mayor against Ginther in November. The Franklin County Democratic Party establishment recruited candidates and endorsed them to run against Scott, as well as Democrat incumbents County Commissioner Paula Brooks and Treasurer Terry Brown, because they supported Scott.

In a further effort by this ruling faction to retain control of the Party, this faction took the unusual step of recruiting and endorsing candidates for the party’s Central Committee – party officials elected by ward every four years – so that those people’s names were a part of the “Democratic Unity Ticket” sample ballot. Scott and Brooks fought back with the “Democrats United” sample ballot, which had Scott, Brown, and Cheryl Brooks Sullivan, along with a slate of Central Committee candidates.

The results were split: surprisingly, Dallas Baldwin, a retired Columbus police lieutenant, won with 52% of the vote over incumbent Sheriff Zach Scott (48%). Current State Representative Kevin Boyce won the race for county commissioner over Brooks, with 58% of the vote. Danny O’Connor beat Terry Brown in the treasurer race (56% - 44%). However, Dems United Cheryl Brooks Sullivan beat Unity Ticket incumbent county treasurer Ed Leonard 51% to 49 percent.

According to one count of the Franklin County Democratic Party Central Committee races, the Unity Ticket (Democratic establishment) picked up 94 seats, while Yes We Can Columbus (a Progressive Democratic movement) picked up 7 seats, and Count Me In (a group of African American citizens, including this writer) picked up 5 seats, with Democrats United (supported by Scott, Brooks, and Brown) and Unaffiliated members picking up 44 seats. Count Me In won 5 of the 9 seats it contested, and Yes We Can picked up 7 of the 16 seats it contested, with two seats too close to call and waiting provisional ballots to be counted, showing that at a neighborhood level, ordinary concerned citizens can beat the Democratic Party insider’s club and its sample ballot.

According to newly-elected Count Me In candidate Shay Tolliver in Ward 85, Count Me In is “the battle for inclusion to be counted as equals in the policy process that shapes our lives.” This is Tolliver’s first entry into political life, and he is excited about the chance to impact the local political landscape through active representation. He said, “For so long the people have been disconnected from the process because they don’t feel like they matter to policy makers. The only time we are thought of is election time when elected officials target our votes -- though they do not target our interests at other times.”

Will Petrik, of Yes We Can Columbus, newly-elected to Ward 18, talked about growing a movement to influence the political agenda and better represent all the people of Columbus’s many neighborhoods, and organizer Will Klatt says “Yes We Can is the new political force for progressives in Columbus. Together, we showed that this city is ready for change. We want a political revolution in Columbus and this is only the beginning.”

With Count Me In and Yes We Can Columbus well-established in the Democratic Party mix, it appears as though Franklin County political life will see more public debate and progressive advocacy on the issues affecting the everyday people of our community.

In other another upset against the Democratic Party establishment, Bernadine Kennedy Kent captured 35% of the vote in the 25th District, winning in a plurality over Jeffrey D. Mackey (20%) and Mayo Makinde (19) and the Beatty-backed candidate Dontavius Jarrells (26%).

The Ohio Green Party was surprised to pick up new registered Green voters in the state. Franklin County Central Committee member Suzanne Patzer stated that “We thought we would lose registered Greens to Bernie’s camp, but we ended up gaining 108 new Green voters in Franklin County.”

Bob Fitrakis, election integrity activist, commented on Ohio’s and other recent state primaries: “The facts indicate that Sanders’ supporters are being suppressed and electronic voting results are being manipulated by someone favoring Hilary Clinton. All the evil tactics used by former Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell in Ohio’s 2004 presidential election fiasco, documented in my book What Happened in Ohio, recently happened in Arizona’s primary: the same patterns – long lines, not enough machines, voters purged from the rolls, voters incorrectly registered in the wrong party, and official election results that don’t match the scientific exit poll numbers. I agree with mathematician Richard Charnin and urge everyone to read his online blog. He says in the Ohio primary election, Hillary should have won by about 5 percentage points, instead of 16, and that Sanders actually won in Massachusetts, Illinois, Missouri and Arizona.”

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