Summit County Democratic Party Announces Potential Vacancy on County Council; Outlines Procedure for Replacement

August 3, 2016 – Akron, Ohio – In response to recent press inquiries surrounding the sudden and unexpected passing of County Executive Russ Pry, the Summit County Democratic Party announced today the process for which this and another potential vacancy will be filled.

First, a replacement for Russ Pry as the Party’s candidate for County Executive on the November ballot is to be nominated by the Summit County Democratic Party Central Committee at a meeting on August 11th, 2016 at 7:00 PM at North High School in Akron. In the same meeting, the Central Committee will appoint someone to fill the vacancy in the office of County Executive until the end of the current term.  Meanwhile, in accordance with the Summit County Charter, County Council President Ilene Shapiro serves as County Executive on an interim basis.

In case the appointment of someone on August 11th should create a vacancy in a Summit County Council at Large seat, another Central Committee Meeting will be held on Wednesday, August 17th, at 7:00 p.m. at North High School in Akron. The purpose of this meeting will be to nominate someone as the Party’s candidate for that County Council at Large seat in the November general election and to appoint someone to that seat until a replacement is elected on November 8th.

By law, a majority of the members of the Central Committee must be present in order for someone to be nominated as the Party’s candidate in the general election.  Currently, there are 287 Central Committee members; 144 constitutes a majority of 287.  Also by law, a majority of the Central Committee members present must vote in favor of a particular candidate in order for a nomination to be made.

Under the Constitution and Bylaws of the Summit County Democratic Party, 50 Central Committee members must be present at a meeting in order to appoint someone to fill a vacancy in a countywide office.  To be appointed, a candidate must receive a simple majority (i.e., more than half) of the votes cast.

If there are multiple candidates in a Central Committee election and no candidate receives the requisite majority in the initial balloting, runoff elections will be conducted.

This process will be strictly adhered to in order to ensure an orderly and proper transition of leadership for the residents of Summit County.

Finally, the Summit County Democratic Party asks that members of the press please continue to respect the privacy of Executive Pry’s friends and family during this time and that they direct all questions about this process to the Summit County Democratic Party.

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County Executive Russ Pry not seeking re-election in November; Democratic Candidate to be nominated on August 11th

Contact:          Jeff Fusco, Chair
                        Summit County Democratic Party
                        (330) 322-6009
                        JQFusco@yahoo.com

COUNTY EXECUTIVE RUSS PRY NOT SEEKING RE-ELECTION IN NOVEMBER; DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE TO BE NOMINATED ON AUGUST 11th
For Immediate Release

July 29, 2016 ­­- Akron, Ohio - County Executive Russ Pry announced today that he is not seeking re-election this November in order to continue focusing on his health.

While Executive Pry will fulfill the remainder of his term this year, the Summit County Democratic Party will be nominating someone to run in his place at a Central Committee Meeting to take place on Thursday, August 11th, in the North High School Auditorium in Akron at 7:00 PM.

“First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers remain focused on Executive Pry’s recovery. We ask that all Summit County residents please continue to keep him in your thoughts and prayers,” said Summit County Democratic Party Chair, Jeff Fusco. “Secondly, while Russ has been recovering, Chief of Staff Jason Dodson and the team that Executive Pry assembled during his previous nine years in office have done an outstanding job moving the County forward, and they are to be commended.”

Over the past nine years, the communities of Summit County have benefited tremendously from Executive Pry’s steadfast devotion to improving the lives of all Summit County residents. His genuine commitment to public service has seen him rise from a small-town attorney in Mogadore to one of Northeast Ohio’s key economic ambassadors on initiatives and delegations that span the globe.

In addition to his official duties, Executive Pry has never ceased his commitment to mentoring Summit County’s next generation of political leadership, and his time as Chair of the Summit County Democratic Party is held in the highest regard by Democratic leaders, activists, and elected officials across Ohio.

“All of us at the Summit County Democratic Party would like to thank Executive Pry for his years of friendship and service to our organization and to the citizens of Summit County,” said Fusco. “We look forward to many more years working with him to improve the lives of people throughout the County, but request that members of the press honor his privacy during this time of healing.”

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17th Annual FDR Award Winners Announced!

Pete Nischt, Executive Director
Summit County Democratic Party
(330) 608-5358
Pete@SummitDems.org

THE SUMMIT COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY ANNOUNCES AWARD RECIPIENTS FOR ITS 17TH ANNUAL FDR DINNER

For Immediate Release

May 17, 2016 – Akron, Ohio - The Summit County Democratic Party has officially announced award recipients for its 17th Annual FDR Dinner, which will feature keynote speakers County Executive Russ Pry, Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, and Congressman Tim Ryan on Thursday, May 19th, at The Tangier in Akron.

Award Recipients are as follows:

Akron Mayor Daniel M. Horrigan, recipient of the Al Teodosio Democrat of the Year Award
Summit County Domestic Relations Court Judge Carol Dezso, recipient of the Jane Quine Democrat of the Year Award
Sarah Rubens, recipient of the Chair’s Distinguished Service Award
Anthony Gomez, recipient of the Chair’s Distinguished Service Award
Bailey Sandin, recipient of the Summit County Young Democrat of the Year Award
Judge James R. Williams, recipient of the Madeline Bozzelli Democrat Lifetime Achievement Award

The Democratic Party will also be creating a new award this year, The Labor Leader of the Year Award, which will be awarded posthumously to the late labor leader and community activist, John Wagner.

“At a time when everything from voting rights, to the right to organize, to the right of women to make their own healthcare decisions is under attack, now more than ever, it is important for us to recognize those who embody the spirit of progressivism by fighting to preserve and protect Democratic values in our communities,” said Summit County Democratic Chair Jeff Fusco. “I am especially proud of our FDR award recipients this year. They are a shining example of everything we stand for and hope to achieve, and I am excited to celebrate their achievements with them this Thursday.”

Tickets to the FDR Dinner may be purchased online at www.SummitDems.org, by mail, or in person. For more information, interested parties may call 330-608-5358.

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SUMMIT COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY ANNOUNCES TEXAS CONGRESSMAN JOAQUIN CASTRO AS KEYNOTE SPEAKER OF 16TH ANNUAL FDR DINNER

Sandra Kurt, Chair
Summit County Democratic Party 
(330) 434-1311
Sandra@SummitDems.org

THE SUMMIT COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY ANNOUNCES TEXAS CONGRESSMAN JOAQUIN CASTRO AS THE KEYNOTE SPEAKER OF ITS 16TH ANNUAL FDR DINNER

For Immediate Release

October 9, 2015 – Akron, Ohio - The Summit County Democratic Party has officially announced that Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro will be the keynote speaker of its 16th Annual FDR Dinner, to be held on Sunday, October 25th, at Todaro's Party Center in Akron.

Named by Politico.com as one of the top 50 politicos to watch in the nation, Joaquin skyrocketed as a leading national Democratic voice after his appearance with his twin brother Julian on the stage of the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

A member of the House Armed Services Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and an advocate for immigration reform, Congressman Castro has been at the forefront of many of the most important issues facing America today.

Along with his speech, the Congressman will be joining guests beforehand for a special VIP reception.

“We are absolutely thrilled to have Congressman Castro joining us this year,” said Summit County Democratic Chair Sandra Kurt. "Looking forward to a Presidential campaign year, the perspective of an accomplished Democratic Congressman from a conservative southern state will be a refreshing respite from the posturing of the Republican presidential field of candidates, many of whom have never won an elected office!”

Tickets may be purchased online at www.SummitDems.org, by mail or in person. For more information, interested parties may call 330-434-1311.

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DEMOCRATIC PARTY CALLS ON OHIO ETHICS COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE WHETHER STOW CLERK OF COURTS KEVIN COUGHLIN UNLAWFULLY ISSUED A PUBLIC CONTRACT TO A BUSINESS ASSOCIATE

Sandra Kurt, Chair
Summit County Democratic Party
(330) 434-1311
Sandra@SummitDems.org

DEMOCRATIC PARTY CALLS ON OHIO ETHICS COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE WHETHER STOW CLERK OF COURTS KEVIN COUGHLIN UNLAWFULLY ISSUED A PUBLIC CONTRACT TO A BUSINESS

For Immediate Release

September 29, 2015 – Stow, OH – Officials at The Summit County Democratic Party have formally requested that the Ohio Ethics Commission conduct an investigation into whether Stow Clerk of Courts Kevin Coughlin unlawfully issued a public contract to his business associate, David Stofka. Ohio Revised Code section 2921.42 explicitly prohibits public officials from knowingly entering into a public contract in which the official or any of the official’s business associates has an interest.

The contract in question, in which Coughlin authorized a $5,437.50 payment from the Court’s Technology Fund to Stofka’s company, Stofka Creative, was for web design services. No other company was allowed to bid for the work and Coughlin’s initials appear on the actual invoice, dated April 6, 2014.

The two men have been publically engaged in a close working relationship for some time. In May, Democratic officials conducted an online investigation and found that Coughlin’s company, Lexington Companies, listed both Coughlin and Stofka as employees and the only members of its “Team.” A website called Zoom Information also listed Lexington under Stofka’s employment history. Additionally, Lexington’s website stated that “Stofka Creative Ltd is the official web design and development partner of Lexington Companies.” The same verbiage appeared on Zoom Information.

Campaign finance reports show that at the same time Coughlin was dealing with Stofka through the Clerk’s office, Stofka Creative was paid a total of $575 for similar services by Coughlin’s campaign committee. Stofka was also previously employed by Coughlin’s Senate campaign, and official Court documents reveal that Stofka’s sister is currently employed by Coughlin in the Clerk’s office. Stofka has been a campaign treasurer for Coughlin in the past and was a circulator for Coughlin’s most recent nominating petition. “The public trust is sacred,” said Summit County Democratic Party Acting Chair Sandra Kurt. “When an elected official blatantly violates it so that his buddy can profit, it is not only unethical and deeply offensive, but it creates the perception that public servants are really private profiteers in disguise.”

Democratic candidate and former Stow Clerk of Courts Diana Colavecchio is running to retake the seat from Coughlin in the November election on a platform of accountability and anti-cronyism.

“Both of Diana’s opponents have been embroiled in scandals leading up to this election,” Kurt said. “The citizens of the Stow Court district need Diana to clean up the cronyism in the Clerk of Courts office and restore the public’s confidence.”

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JEFF FUSCO TO TEMPORARILY STEP DOWN AS PARTY CHAIR; SECOND VICE-CHAIR, SANDRA KURT, TO TAKE OVER AS ACTING CHAIR

Pete Nischt, Executive Director
Summit County Democratic Party
(330) 434-1311
Pete@SummitDems.org

JEFF FUSCO TO TEMPORARILY STEP DOWN AS PARTY CHAIR; SECOND VICE-CHAIR, SANDRA KURT, TO TAKE OVER AS ACTING CHAIR

For Immediate Release

June 10, 2015 – Akron, OH – The Summit County Democratic Party announced today that its Chair, Jeff Fusco, will be temporarily stepping down from his post, effective midnight on June 10. Second Vice-Chair Sandra Kurt will succeed him as Acting Chair until Fusco can return to his post.

The temporary shift in leadership came about in response to the resignation of Garry Moneypenny as the Mayor of Akron. Fusco, who also currently serves as President of Akron City Council, will immediately succeed Moneypenny under the City’s charter once Moneypenny’s resignation is effective. Fusco will serve as Mayor until his successor takes over on January 1, 2016, when he will return to his post at the Party.

The Akron City Charter requires the Mayor to “devote his entire time to the performance of the duties of his office,” which preclude Fusco from holding the office of Chair. The Party’s Constitution and By-laws provide for the delegation of duties should the Chair become temporarily unavailable to serve.

“I have complete confidence in the ability of Sandra Kurt to serve in my absence,” said Fusco. “These are unprecedented times, and it is important now that we come together for the good of the Party, for the good of the City of Akron, and for the good of Summit County.”

Fusco, who was first elected to Akron City Council in November 1985, and who later served as the City’s Deputy Service Director, filed yesterday to run again for the At-Large City Council seat he has dutifully held since he was elected to that role in November 2009.

“I am proud of the work we are doing at the Party, and admire Jeff’s continued dedication to his community,” said Kurt. “I believe in the City of Akron. While the City has faced tough and challenging times in the past, it has always come out on top.”

Kurt, who was recently re-elected as an At-Large County Councilwoman, is currently enrolled in a program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. She will be running the Party remotely until she returns on June 19, 2015.

Please direct all press inquiries regarding this matter to Party Executive Director, Pete Nischt.

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REPUBLICAN JUDICIAL CANDIDATES MISLEAD VOTERS; MAY HAVE VIOLATED JUDICIAL CODE OF CONDUCT

Jeff Fusco, Chair
Summit County Democratic Party
(330) 322-6009
Jeff@SummitDems.org

REPUBLICAN JUDICIAL CANDIDATES MISLEAD VOTERS AND MAY HAVE VIOLATED JUDICIAL CODE OF CONDUCT

For Immediate Release

October 31, 2014 – Akron, OH – The Summit County Democratic Party condemns repeated attempts by Republican Judicial Candidates to mislead voters in both campaign literature and advertisements.

The pieces, which contain the language, “Names you Know and Trust,” clearly endorse the candidates as a team. Endorsements of this nature violate Rule 4.1(A)(3) of Ohio’s Code of Judicial Conduct, which states that judicial candidates may not endorse each other or other candidates. Similar problematic language has appeared in print ads, such as one recently appearing in the West Side Leader, and in mailed literature.

“This is a classic play from the Republican handbook,” said Summit County Democratic Party Chair Jeff Fusco. “Attempting to win by confusing, misleading, and disenfranchising voters. We expect this from some but not from judicial candidates.” The violations began several weeks ago, when Republican volunteers began passing out what they describe as “Independent” or “Non-Partisan” Judicial Sample Ballots that only contain candidates vetted in the Republican Primary and endorsed by the Republican Party. Upon asking if the candidates on the ballot were Democrats, many early voters, including undercover Democratic Party Officers, have been told by the volunteers that they “didn’t know” or that the candidates were “Independents.” However, when asked separately if the candidates were Republicans, the answer was always “yes.”

“Citizens who find themselves in front of a judge should be able to trust that the judge will be a fair and honest professional who respects both the dignity of those they serve and the office they hold,” said Fusco. “This behavior only serves to destroy confidence in the judiciary and lessen confidence in the legal profession. At the end of the day, we all need to ask ourselves: What kind of candidate is worth fundamentally misleading voters in order to see them get elected?”

This information comes to light just as Republican judicial candidates Todd McKenney and Beth Whitmore have had their Akron Bar Association ratings downgraded for misusing the ABA’s “judicial rating system in… advertising” in a way that the ABA determined “misleading to the voting public.”

The Summit County Democratic Party has been distributing clearly marked sample ballots of its own ahead of the election, which takes place on November 4th.

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