Jamie Romeo has a difficult — some might say impossible — job ahead of her. She was elected last week to lead a deeply divided, financially strapped county Democratic Party just as the election season kicks into high gear.
"I know exactly what our challenges are," she says. "I wouldn't be stepping into a black hole if that's where I thought this was going."
Romeo, 30, is the latest in a string of younger Democrats stepping into critical leadership roles in the party. And that should mean something to party members.
A group of younger Democrats revived the dormant Henrietta Democratic Committee, which is putting up a full slate of candidates for town and County Legislature offices this year. Many top Democrats see Henrietta as the party's best bet for picking up some suburban seats.
And Democrats have held all of the Town Board seats and the supervisor's office in Romeo's hometown of Irondequoit since the 2013 elections. Most of the positions are held by younger Dems.
Romeo's election shows young Democrats that they have a place in the party beyond gathering signatures and knocking on doors — that they can help shape its future.
And her peers have faith in her ability to pull the party out of its slump.
"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 as MCDC chair. "But if you've known Jamie, she's not one to shy away from challenges."