The annual Athens County Democratic Party Fall Dinner was held Wednesday at the Athens American Legion to introduce the Democratic candidates for this year’s midterm election.

John Haseley, the Athens Democratic Party Chair, opened the dinner with a welcome, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and dinner.

Before the introduction of candidates by Ohio University College Democrats, or OUCDs, Haseley acknowledged the strong relationship between the county party and OUCD.

Judge Melody Stewart, who is running for Ohio Supreme Court, was introduced by Riley Williams, a sophomore studying social work.

Stewart is a Court of Appeals Judge in the 8th Appellate District and is running with a goal in mind to reform the Ohio court system. 

“In a lot of counties, it’s taking too long for cases to run through the system. It shouldn’t take a year for a judge to rule on a motion. Parties need to have motions ruled on before the day of the trial,” Stewart said. 

Rick Neal, who is running for Ohio’s 15th District of Congress for the first time, was also introduced by Williams. 

“(I am so proud), as a first time candidate, as a citizen, to be running to represent everyone in the 15th district starting right here in Athens County,” Neal said. “Today we get to start voting. We get to start taking steps towards better health care, towards a secure retirement, towards fixing our political system.” 

Taylor Sappington is running for state representative in the 94th District and was introduced by Bailey Williams, president of OUCDs and a senior studying economics. Sappington is a Nelsonville City Council member. 

“I’m so proud to be running for this area. I’m so proud of the party and local, state and national level,” Sappington said. 

Dave Owen, who is running for Athens County auditor, was introduced by the latter Williams. 

Owen has worked in the auditor’s office for more than 30 years. He is also a school board member of Trimble Local Schools.

“I want to be approachable,” Owen said. “I want to work with all the townships and villages that have had trouble with the county auditor’s office (getting) calls back (and getting) responses. I want to end that.”

Ric Wasserman, who is running for re-election as county treasurer, was introduced by Haseley. 

“I want to thank everyone in this room and out of this room. This is a fantastic group of people. And this is our year,Wasserman said. 

Lenny Eliason, who is running for re-election as county commissioner, was also introduced by Haseley. Eliason stressed the importance of voting in his speech. 

“Vote from the state house to the courthouse,” Eliason said.

The keynote speaker of the event was Tim Burga, president of the Ohio American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. 

Burga spoke on the importance of this election and how it will affect the working class. 

“In my opinion, this election is a defining election for a generation of what type of state, what type of nation we are to become, and what place in it working people will have,” he said.

A live auction was held that raised more than $3,000 for the Athens County Democratic Party.

The Athens Democrat of the Year was awarded to Patrice Beard for her campaign work.


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