Paying it forward: Dems recognize volunteer’s efforts

First-time political candidates may throw their hats in the ring with great enthusiasm, but they often need some help when it comes to navigating a run for office.

Glenn Ray, a leadership communication consultant from Little Hocking, volunteers his time to help Democratic candidates for city and county office hone their message and learn from each other’s experiences. Recently, he was recognized with the inaugural Art Fordham Every Vote Counts award by the Washington County Democratic Party for his efforts.

The award is named in honor of the late Art Fordham, who served 19 years on Marietta City Council and encouraged and mentored many candidates. He often told the story of how his father, Delbert Fordham, encountered a man on Election Night who said he wasn’t going to vote. The elder Fordham convinced him to go cast his ballot and wound up winning his own race for a city council 4th ward seat by one vote.

Ray first worked on a political campaign when John Kerry was the Democratic nominee for president in 2004, and soon moved into local politics, working with former state Rep. Jennifer Garrison on her first campaign in 2006.

Question: How long have you been interested in politics?

Answer: Well, I would say since John F. Kennedy when I was 7. … My dad had to always watch the president whenever he spoke. We had one TV and three channels, so we watched it. And Kennedy was a very vibrant, sharp-witted, humorous person.

Q: What kind of work do you do with local candidates?

A: We talk about what are the voters’ needs, what are the issues, what are all the issues that need to be addressed. So we kind of identify those and prioritize those and start identifying our positions on them. … And we practice and get feedback from the whole group. It’s never just me. … Most of the local candidates are there, whether they’re opposed or not, and that’s where the real strength of the process is. I’ve never been a candidate. …. Basically what I do is facilitate it, create the agendas, keep the process moving, make sure they get as much as they can from everybody in that room.

Q: How often do you do these workshops?

A: I’m not always there, but there are meetings that take place most every week.

Q: Why is doing this work important to you?

A: It’s really a huge undertaking to run for office, especially countywide. It’s a big, broad county. I think it’s important to give people who are like-minded as much assistance as possible to be successful. But it’s truly up to the candidates. … Running for office is a communication process, just like doing a project in the workforce. It involves identifying … the things that need to be done, the steps in doing the things and then a tracking mechanism (to determine) if these things are getting done.

Q: Have you ever considered running for office yourself?

A: No, not really. My business is about all I can do to keep it going.

Q: What does it mean to you to receive an award named in honor of Mr. Fordham?

A: It is a huge, huge honor. Art was one of the most intelligent, caring, efficient, effective – he was just a wonderful guy. I was on a number of projects with Art. … I always knew if Art was involved that it was going to be done right. Just a wonderful guy, one of my favorites. … It was one of the biggest honors of my life to have an award with his name on it. … There are a lot of good people in the parties, in both parties. But Art was a shining star.

Evan Bevins conducted this interview.