Slowly, and possibly even surely, the Summit County Democratic Party appears to be reaching a consensus on its leadership for this election year and beyond. For months, rumors have intruded upon any discussion of where the party is headed. Such talk usually derived from the frustration by the party's achievers of not really knowing what the next chapter would tell them.
The puzzle led to the chairman himself, Wayne Jones, who has long delivered money and votes to his candidates but is now a Parkinson's victim that limits his presence in the arena. Ironically, the illness is the one matter that co-exists with his Republican rival, Alex Arshinkoff, whose mobility has been seriously limted since an auto accident.
As recently as a few days ago, some Democratic insiders were telling me that Jones would definitely seek reelection; others said he would not, and several weren't sure one way of the other. Furthermore, most lamented that it was a delicate issue because nobody wanted to force him out on the basis of his infirmity.
So I called Jones yesterday afternoon and asked him point blank: Are you running?
He replied: "Probably not". End of conversation. Got that, undecided Democrats?
I'm told by a few others that it's a "done deal': Jones will remain on the Board of Elections and at-large city councilman Jeff Fusco will become the new chairman although board membership normally is accorded the chairman. With so many Democrats in office hereabouts, however, there could be a half-dozen more candidates for the job when the party central committee meets in May to elect a new leader.
Never the most disciplined souls when it comes to party politics, Democrats can be quite independently free-spirited when the the moment calls for cohesion. As for Fusco, the city's former deputy service director, he said he's willing to take on the chairmanship, adding that he wanted to serve in whatever way would benefit the party and the community.
From a political writers' standpoint, glad that all of this is settled. Or so it seems.