Thursday, July 30, 2015

Romeo chosen to lead county Dems

Posted By on Thu, Jul 30, 2015 at 10:43 AM

click to enlarge Jamie Romeo is the new leader of the Monroe County Democratic Committee. - PROVIDED PHOTO
  • Jamie Romeo is the new leader of the Monroe County Democratic Committee.
Jamie Romeo said last night that her first move as the new chair of the Monroe County Democratic Committee will be to reach out to party "stakeholders," from the volunteers who go door-to-door on behalf of candidates to the donors who provide the cash the organization needs to run. Many Democrats may not know her well, she said, and she wants to change that.

Romeo, who's been MCDC's executive director since January and was chief of staff for former State Senator Ted O'Brien, starts her new role today.

Democratic committee members from across the county met last night and voted for Romeo, who lives in Irondequoit. She was the sole chair candidate for the job. Romeo received enthusiastic nominations from the floor; Irondequoit Town Board member David Seeley called for a unanimous ballot for "one of Irondequoit's finest."

"There's no doubt there will be challenging days ahead," said Alex Hipolito, vice president of the Monroe County Young Democrats and MCDC's political director, during his speech nominating Romeo. "But if you've known Jamie, she's not one to shy away from challenges."

And there are some major challenges facing the party. It's heading into a big local election year, and the county party's bank account is very low. Privately, some Democratic leaders worry that means headquarters won't be able to help much with Sandy Frankel's campaign for county executive, or with potentially competitive County Legislature contests.

The party also has internal divisions, power struggles, and personality conflicts, which often materialize in primaries. There were subtle signs of the division last night; some key black city committee leaders who are aligned with Mayor Lovely Warren and State Assembly member David Gantt didn't show up for last night's vote. 

Romeo said that the county party has come out of much tighter spots, and that it has good candidates and campaigns for a critical election year. And as executive director, she's already had some involvement with those campaigns, she said, so the transition should be smooth.

"Part of my nature is to find a solution to problems," Romeo said after the meeting.

But Romeo, who is 30, also sees her election as a chance for the next generation of Democratic leaders to step up, take on some responsibility, and be held accountable for their decisions. Last night, she wasn't the only one thinking that way. Several committee members of varying ages approached her and told her that they're excited to have a young person at the helm.

Romeo replaces Dave Garretson, who is stepping down as chair for health reasons.

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