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We witnessed a grass roots phenomena develop around the Kerry-Edwards campaign in Portage County that was nothing less than astonishing and certainly like nothing ever seen before in Portage County.
When the election was over, we learned that "Ohio would decide" was only half true. What was deciding was a vast effort of well funded misrepresentation. So, what were we to do?
On Inauguration Day, we had a party and invited everyone we could find from the Kerry Campaign and we started a new progressive organization for Portage County. The Kerry volunteers were the seeds for the Portage Democratic Coalition .
Looking back at the range of our activities in 2006, it's hard to believe that the Portage Democratic Coalition is a mere two years old.
Two major efforts of our organization this year were the primary election in May and the national election in November. The PDC ran workshops and offered support to 30 PDC members and supporters who ran for precinct committee positions in the spring. Twenty-seven were elected. For many, this was their first venture into elected office.
Prior to the primary election on May 2, Subodh Chandra, Jennifer Brunner and Marc Dann, candidates for state office, presented their platforms to sizeable audiences at the Kent VFW. We also hosted Tim Carpenter, national director for Progressive Democrats of America.
In the fall, Sherrod Brown and Tom Sawyer, as well as local candidates Michele Bogo, Chuck Keiper and John Thomas, campaigned to enthusiastic PDC crowds.
PDC was one of the first groups to endorse Sawyer's candidacy for State School Board, and members worked enthusiastically for him in Portage County . Volunteers wrote and mailed thousands of postcards, delivered literature in 26 precincts, made more than 2,000 calls on the weekend prior to the election and stood at polling places with Sawyer signs on Election Day.
At the same time, PDC volunteers worked hard for the Democratic slate: phoning from the Ravenna office for the coordinated campaign, distributing yard signs, and dropping literature, as well as attending fundraisers and campaign events.
Our Communications Committee designed, printed, and distributed 5,000 Ten Reasons to Vote flyer s to nursing homes, senior citizen centers, businesses, social service agencies, political gatherings and Democratic precinct committee people throughout the county.
Volunteers worked PDC tables at Balloon-a-Fair in Ravenna and Kent 's Heritage Fest., where we collected signatures to place the minimum wage increase on the November ballot.
PDC members also tabled and co-sponsored the PDA Summit of Ohio 's Grassroots Organizations, Democrats and Progressive Activists ; Ohio PDA's Rally in the Circle in Tallmadge ; Summit County Progressive Democrats' Election Forum ; and, We Count 2006: A Conference about Fair Elections and Democracy held in Cleveland .
Throughout the year, members volunteered countless hours for five standing committees - Communications, Program, Fundraising, Outreach and Politics - and staffed the office four days each week.
Expenses were met by three fundraisers - Funny Stop Comedy Club, Macy's Shop for a Cause and our 2 nd annual A Home of Our Own , but what really keep us afloat are our increasing membership roster and the generosity of our members each time we pass the hat.
Our members' commitment to making a difference, dedication to our "real moral values of peace, justice and equality," and willingness to pitch in to accomplish any task are why we have completed a second successful year and can move confidently into a third year filled with challenges and possibilities.
- Katrina Haas
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