Democratic dinner and fundraiser

Washington County Democrats filled the tightly-packed Marietta Elks Club Friday night for the party’s annual fall dinner where Ohio Rep. John Patrick Carney, a candidate for Ohio State Auditor in 2014, gave the keynote address.

The dinner is a fundraiser to help support the several Democratic candidates running for local offices, but it also serves as a way to energize the party weeks before the general election, said Washington County Democratic Party chairwoman Molly Varner.

“This year, all of the races are for local offices. These are boots on the ground people that affect everyday life,” she said.

Candidates for contested races were introduced during the dinner, including Marietta City Council at-large candidates Harley Noland and Kathy Downer, city council presidential candidate Kevin Paskawych, council 2nd Ward candidate Mike McCauley, and Marietta City Treasurer candidate Willa O’Neill.

The party also introduced some candidates who will become familiar faces during the 2014 state and national elections.

“This is somebody who we are going to be seeing a lot more of,” said Varner, introducing Belmont County Commissioner Ginny Favede.

Favede is considering running for state representative for Ohio’s 95th district, a position currently held by Republican Andy Thompson, of Marietta, said Varner.

Also running in 2014, Marietta resident Jennifer Garrison is hoping to oust Congressman Bill Johnson from Ohio’s 6th Congressional District.

Garrison, a Marietta resident for more than 20 years, said she provides a sharp contrast to Johnson, both in politics and in motivation.

“Congressman Johnson moved to Marietta two years ago because he was district shopping. That’s what is wrong with Congress-people wanting to be in Congress to be in Congress and not to help the people,” she said .

Garrison chided Johnson for several decisions, including failing to renew the Violence Against Women Act, slashing funding from nutritional programs, and most recently failing to come to a bi-partisan resolution to the nation’s funding problem.

“Other Republicans, including ones in Ohio, voted for a bi-partisan solution…If we would have defaulted, that would have hurt the pensions of hardworking Ohioans. That is going too far,” she said.

Carney, D-Columbus, echoed Garrison’s concern that partisan politics have created too much gridlock in government.

“When I got elected to the legislature three years ago, I thought evidence-based ideas would create bipartisan solutions,” said Carney.

Instead, ideologues have stopped Ohio from making real progress. As auditor, Carney thinks he can tackle problems from the root, he said.

“The feeling is there’s a structural problem with democracy. In a democracy based on compromise, you can’t get anything accomplished with ideologues filibustering and stalling the system. As auditor, I can solve first the structural problem and then we can get closer to fixing the other problems,” he said.

Among other things, Carney said he would advocate for more transparency in government spending, pointing to Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s JobsOhio organization.

“They’re basically spending taxpayers’ money in secret,” he said.