Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper
Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper, standing, talks with attendees at the six-county Democratic Party dinner Thursday night. (photo submitted)

ARCHBOLD — Following on the heels of the local Republican party’s recent Lincoln-Reagan Dinner featuring Congressman Jim Jordan, local Democratic party members of Defiance, Fulton, Henry, Paulding, Putnam and Williams counties came together for their annual fundraising dinner. The event was held last Thursday evening at Northwest State Community College in Archbold.

The main speaker for the dinner was Ohio Democratic Party Chairman, David Pepper. Though unable to attend the dinner, The Sentinel did speak with Mr. Pepper following the event, asking what message he brought for his party’s faithful in northwest Ohio.

“I think that a lot of our communities and our smaller towns in this state, and obviously beyond Ohio, really have been left behind by the policy makers,” came part of Mr. Pepper’s response. “In Columbus we see the statehouse continuing to just take money from local governments to bring it to Columbus to spend it as they wish, or give it away as tax cuts for the well off.”

“To me, that is symbolic of a bigger problem. Which is, there really has not been, in Washington or Columbus, any real thinking about how do we help a lot of the smaller communities of the state, smaller in population. The towns that have had their largest employer leave. That have young people leaving. That used to have a very solid main street, but thanks to certain trends, their main streets are hollowing out.”

“What’s the plan for those communities? I don’t think that either party has actually answered that question. And so, that was the other thing I talked about, was the need for democrats to really step up, and really provide answers to these communities about where they fit into the 21st Century economy. Because too many of them are feeling like, as one town told me over a year ago, ‘We feel like we’re flyover country in flyover country. That people are not focusing on us in either Columbus or Washington.’”

Mr. Pepper was also asked the same question posed to Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan at the Republican Party of Putnam County’s recently held Lincoln-Reagan dinner. Given his public position as head of the Ohio Democratic Party, what is something about himself that his more conservative critics might find surprising?

“I was a city council member in Cincinnati and county commissioner in Hamilton County, Mr. Pepper answered. “Even though this job is partisan, when I was in office, and this is what I encourage our office holders to do, I worked across party lines all of the time. And, got a lot of things done with good people on the Republican side in my community.”

“I think that people who only see me in this job wouldn’t expect that. But, I think that’s actually how government runs best.”