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For Such a Time as This

By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, Ph.D.
The Truth Contributor

We should not permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities.    
-  Booker T. Washington


Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.

Desperate to dethrone President Trump and a recalcitrant Republican-led U.S. Senate, the Lucas County Democratic Party has a critical decision to make. With voters being told to avoid crowds and practice social distancing because of COVID-19, the Dems face a potential disruption in the looming 2020 general election process while the local Party is reeling from its internal leadership crisis.

In politics, turnout is everything, and 30,000 Democrats in Lucas County failed to participate in the 2018 midterm elections. The number who disengage from the electoral process could swell in November 2020 as voters will have to weigh the benefits of voting over risking their health.

Lucas County Dems, facing the clear and present danger of COVID-19, will need to fill their leadership void by selecting an experienced Party chair who can lead the Party in a time of crisis.

Who is the right person for this time, position, and place?

I caught up with former state representative Michael Ashford, who makes his case to become chairman of the Lucas County Democratic Party for such a time as this.

Perryman: First of all, why are you running for the Chair of the Lucas County Democratic Party?

Ashford: Iím running because Iíve been part of the Democratic Party for over 20 years. We have so much at stake, especially during the 2020 Presidential election and given the fact that we are living amid a pandemic. It will be a challenge to elect Democratic Party candidates. They need the help and new leadership to make sure that we continue to win these races in Lucas County and elsewhere.

At one point, the Lucas County Democratic Party was the most prominent Party in the State of Ohio. Still, we noticed that many people had walked away.  We need to change. We need new leadership. My overall experience will bring that to help the Party grow and move forward. 

Perryman: What is your assessment of the Partyís effectiveness, culture, goals, and stance on the issues?

Ashford: I have not seen the Party have goals in the past; thatís why I decided to run. I plan to put together a dynamic team to rebuild the Party and its infrastructure to get a lot of people engaged. So, I will put goals in place to ensure that we are recruiting right; goals to make sure that we are identifying great candidates; and fundraising goals. I then, will put benchmarks in place to make sure that people are being held accountable.

Perryman: What qualifications for the position do you bring with you?

Ashford: Anybody can apply if they are 18 years old and a registered voter.  However, what you want is somebody who has the overall experience to come in and understand what it takes to move the Party forward.  Unfortunately, my opponent doesnít have that experience.  Iíve been part of a gubernatorial campaign and part of a presidential campaign. Iíve been part of state repsí campaigns that I have personally run.  So, you should have experience.  And I like the current guy, heís a nice guy, but he doesnít have that depth or breadth of knowledge and understanding. 

The other most important critical part is that as a candidate and as an elected official, I have overall experience and the knowledge to work with people who are running and bring them resources.  My opponent doesnít have that. Heís never held political office, so he canít tell people how to run a campaign.  So thatís the advantage I got, to bring my level of experience to the table.

Perryman: Please expand upon the importance of fundraising. 

Ashford: I was the top fundraiser in Toledo when I was on city council, and I was also one of the top fundraisers in Columbus. Fundraising is vital because it helps you get your message out.  People have to clearly understand that politicians or candidates donít get anything free. They have to pay for the yard signs, pay for the print ads, and have to pay for TV, radio, etc. So, for you to get your message out, you would have to raise money to get to that point. 

Not only do candidates have to raise money, the Party has to raise money to make sure that we support candidates and get our message out too.  So fundraising is equally important as everything else, and I have the experience of fundraising.  When I was a minority whip in Columbus, I raised about $400,000 in a little over two years.  I also, in my eight years there, wrote up to about $125,000 worth of checks.  In my role as city councilperson I raised over six figures in contributions. Being a leader means you write checks for everybody, you just donít keep it for yourself, you make sure other Democratic candidates or incumbents get elected by supporting their campaign.  So thatís the importance of fundraising.  If youíve never done fundraising, donít get in this game.

Perryman: One of the knocks on Mike Ashford has been that you are often seen as divisive.

Ashford:  Well, let me respond to that.  Iíve been involved in over 70 campaigns, and when people start throwing things out there, that means theyíre nervous.  Iíve learned early on in my career I donít worry about name-calling any other candidate or any other opponent because itís not worth it.  But let me answer because I want people to understand this. 

Divisive?  My opponent has openly told people he would not work with the unions. Heís anti-union.  How much more divisive can you get than that?  My successful track record speaks for itself.  Iíve been able to work with everybody, Democrats and Republicans.  The Pew Institute honored me for being the first Democrat in the last 30 years that passed the number one comprehensive consumer protection bill in Ohio. It was House Bill 123, called payday lending. I helped over a million people in the State of Ohio get free of this predatory lending practice. And, I got more than half the Republicans to support that bill in Columbus, more than half.  And if youíre divisive like they say I am, you wouldnít get 100 percent of the Democratic support and 50 percent of the Republican support on a bill that the Republican governor immediately signed when it hit his desk. 

When I was on city council, I worked with everybody, both Democrats and Republicans, to address a lot of issues.  I worked on Issue 79, that was the Toledo Waterways Initiative.  We worked together on that to get that passed.  I was the chair of the initiative to make sure that we got it off the ground and started a committee.  I was the chair of Neighborhoods, and we worked with everybody in administration because we experienced a $2.5 million shortfall from the federal government, we had to work together.  We addressed flooded basements. I worked with a lot of people in that area.  So, I have a successful track record. Iíve been able to work with many, many people.  

Perryman: Why do you believe that you are a better candidate for these times than Keith Mitchell, your opponent?

Ashford:  Because my experience and understanding of politics are much greater. The past two leaders we had are kind and friendly, but they havenít been in the political circles to understand how things work and operate.  It would be best if you had someone with the experience of having gone to Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus or going to the State Legislators of the Midwest Institute in Chicago to dialog with other political operatives. You need the experience of being engaged in a political race or campaign.  I have that track record. My opponent doesnít. 

Perryman: Before we go, please talk about your support. 

Ashford:  We have put together a great team of the private sector, public sector, elected officials, and volunteers, and weíre working very hard. 

Perryman: Is there anything you would like to add?

Ashford: Let me close by saying this.  The Party needs change, and everybody knows we need change.  Thirty thousand people, 30,000 Democrats in Northwest Ohio, stayed home in 2018 for the governorís race.  I like Keith Mitchell and heís a nice guy, but being in a leadership position over the last five years, he has been a problem. He has had opportunities to make changes but never did. In fact, as chair of the screening committee, he gave the Party an embarrassing black eye because he did not do his homework and ask the right question. He was ineffective, failed to fulfill his previous responsibility and left the organization with egg on its face.

And so, we need to return people to the Party and support the core Democratic Party values. I see that happening only with Mike Ashford as chair of the Lucas County Democrats.

Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at drdlperryman@centerofhopebaptist.org



Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 05/28/20 10:50:40 -0400.



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