Daily, Smith take over leadership of local Democratic Party

Tyler Juranovich, Kokomo Tribune, Ind.
·2 min read

Mar. 11—A former mayor and longtime Democrat has taken the reins of the local party.

Former Kokomo mayor and city councilman Steve Daily was elected chair of the Howard County Democratic Party at a caucus this past weekend. Daily ran unopposed and was formerly interim vice chair. He will be replacing interim chair Dara Johnson, who was the party's first African American to lead the party.

Other leadership positions elected by the party include:

* Vice chair: Abbie Smith, a former mayoral candidate and current president and CEO of United Way Serving Howard and Tipton Counties. She was formerly the party's secretary.

* Treasurer: Ed Foster was reelected. Foster, a former county treasurer candidate, has a degree in accounting from Wayne State University.

* Secretary: Ginny McMillin

Daily served as a city councilman from 1975-78 before being elected as the city's youngest mayor at 32 years old in 1979, serving two terms. He then spent stints at both Indiana University Kokomo and Ivy Tech Kokomo, serving as chancellor for the latter for 20 years before retiring in 2015 and starting an organic farm. He and other party leadership positions were elected to four-year terms.

Daily was persuaded to rejoin party politics last year as interim vice chair after former chair Kathy Skiles and former vice chair Steve Geiselman resigned shortly after the party was trounced by Republicans in the mayor's and city council races in the November 2019 election, leaving no Democrats on the city council for the first time in several decades.

"I'm not sure I've seen the party this low in my lifetime, but it is cyclical as the two parties tend to swing back and forth in this county," Daily told the Tribune in a brief interview Thursday.

Winning back a few or even a majority of city council seats a few years from now is high on the party's priority list, as is maintaining Democrat Leslie Fatum's, 3rd District, seat on the county council. Her term ends at the end of this year.

Daily said the party will hold a planning meeting in the near future, where the party's future priorities and strategies are to be discussed and decided. He added that he expects the party to be competitive in upcoming elections.

"We have to have something to offer, whether it's life experience, ideas and some thoughts about what's been done in the last four years and what you'd do better," he said. "If we can't do that, then we don't deserve to win offices.

Tyler Juranovich can be reached at 765-454-8577, by email at tyler.juranovich@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter at @tylerjuranovich