Honoring Great Public Servants in 2020

6 mins read


Recognizing Great Public Servants

During our final executive committee meeting of the year, Chairman David Pepper this week honored our annual award winners.

Large County Chair of the Year: Hamilton County Democratic Party Chair Gwen McFarlin

Chairwoman McFarlin led the Hamilton County Democrats to a number of historic victories, winning two county commission seats, electing a new sheriff, notching numerous judicial wins and taking seven of the eight countywide offices on the ballot in 2020. The county courthouse finally reflects the diversity of the county.


Small County Chair of the Year: Union County Democratic Party Chair Tenah McMahan

A dairy and soybean farmer, Chair McMahan led the Union County Democrats for the first time this year, and she helped to organize thousands of volunteer calls, hosted a rural roundtable at her farm with Democratic National Chairman Tom Perez, penned a blog post on Donald Trump’s terrible trade policies and increased the vote share for Joe Biden in her rural county.


Herman Zerger Veteran of the Year: State Rep. Erica Crawley

As a Navy veteran, daughter and sister of a veteran, Rep. Crawley successfully fought for passage of legislation that exempts veterans’ disability severance payments from the state income tax.

John J. Gilligan Young Democrat of the Year: State Rep. Phil Robinson

Rep. Robinson has been an outstanding advocate for public education, access to health care and economic opportunity, and he just won re-election in his suburban swing district by a larger margin than he did in his first victory in 2018.

Jim Obergefell Progressive Hero: State Sen. Vernon Sykes

Amid his many accomplishments, Sen. Sykes was the leading champion at the Ohio Statehouse for redistricting reform, leading to two successful amendments to the Ohio Constitution. In 2022, every Ohioan will benefit from his tireless efforts when we have fair legislative and congressional district maps.


Volunteer of the Year: Ed Singer, Defiance County

Singer is an outstanding volunteer leader in Ohio, working since 2018 to cultivate and grow a team of volunteers through a comprehensive Defiance County Party strategy that he helped develop — a strategy that has been used and replicated by a number of rural counties.

Gertrude Donahey Democratic Woman of the Year: Justice-elect Jennifer Brunner

Brunner’s Ohio Supreme Court victory was the only statewide red-to-blue flip in a Trump-carried state in the entire country in 2020. Brunner has now made history by being the only Democratic woman in Ohio to be elected to two different statewide offices.


Myrl Shoemaker Award: State Rep. John Patterson

A teacher and long-time champion for public education, Rep. Patterson has been fighting for fair school funding for years, and this month–his final as a state representative–the Ohio House finally and overwhelmingly passed his bill. Patterson accepted his award from his hospital bed, as he has been battling COVID-19. The representative is home now, but we are keeping Patterson and state Rep. John Rogers in our thoughts and prayers.



What Did Mike DeWine Know And When Did He Know It?

As Ohio Republican lawmakers attempt to distract Ohioans from the largest bribery case in Ohio history, while refusing to repeal the legislation at its center, House Bill 6, the Ohio Democratic Party this week released a new video highlighting all of the GOP connections to the growing scandal.


“Ohio Republicans want you to think the House Bill 6 scandal starts and ends with Larry Householder, but the web of connections to Republican officials, lobbyists and operatives continues to grow,” said Ohio Democratic Party Communications Director Kirstin Alvanitakis.

“The bribery scandal has already resulted in five indictments, two guilty pleas, at least two GOP officeholders receiving subpoenas and multiple executives being fired. On top of that, Mike DeWine’s hand-picked appointee to lead the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio had his home raided by federal agents, but DeWine still praised him as having done ‘very, very good work.’ DeWine received warnings about his appointee’s troubling history of carrying water for special interests, and he still moved forward with the appointment. Now Republicans at the Statehouse are stalling on legislation to repeal House Bill 6 by offering a fake repeal that merely kicks the can down the road for another year.

“The voters of Ohio deserve to know — what did Mike DeWine know about the House Bill 6 scandal and when did he know it? And why are Ohio Republicans continuing to protect the big utility corporations that were behind the House Bill 6 scheme?”


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