Democratic party takes shape

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April 29, 2015 - 12:00 AM

The long-dormant Allen County Democratic Party wiped the sleep from its eyes Wednesday night when it elected — from  among the 14 local residents who attended an hour long meeting — a central committee charged with representing the party branch going forward.
Mike Bruner (Humboldt), a longstanding high school teacher in Chanute, was named county party chair. Georgia Masterson (Iola), director of Circles of Allen County and a health care Navigator at Thrive Allen County, accepted the position of vice chair. Glenda Helton (Iola) will be the group’s secretary. And Lisse Regehr (Iola), also a Navigator at Thrive, will be its treasurer.
“This is the first step,” Kansas Democratic Party field director Carlos Lugo told the dozen plus Democrats gathered in the conference room of the courthouse basement. “[Our goal] is to make sure we hold our elected representatives’ feet to the fire. For too long I think a lot of them have felt that they can vote in a way that’s against the interest of their constituents, because there is no one here to make sure that they get hell for it. Having an organized party that can deliver that message not only to the elected representatives but to voters, that’s what gets us there.”
Upon receiving his chairmanship, Bruner began the process of selecting precinct members, a responsibility that will continue into the coming weeks.
As of Wednesday, Leon Cuppet and Kim Montgomery are Savonburg’s precinct contacts, while Elyssa Jackson will represent Iola. Bruner also asked Jackson to be the county party’s social media point person.
While the substance of Wednesday’s meeting dwelt mostly on party organization, members — encouraged to share their motivation for attending — were given a chance to air their disgruntlement with the recent drift of Kansas politics. The basic harmony of their views was best summarized by Lugo:
“We have a governor that keeps telling us the sun is shining in Kansas, but we all know that’s not the case. We see that school districts have to close early because of block grants. We see that local, rural hospitals are having to close, or are in danger of closing, because of the lack of Medicaid expansion. This is a model that we have to stop, because we can’t let it get exported to other states. … We just need to make sure that, united, we can get the word out. That, united, we can organize not only Democrats but also moderate Republicans that agree with us, that know that there is a better future than what Gov. Brownback has put forward.”
The Allen County Democratic Party will host its next meeting May 26, in Humboldt, at a location yet to be determined. Contact party chairman Mike Bruner with any questions at [email protected]

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