Democratic unity conference set for April 1

Mar. 19—NORWALK — The Huron County Democratic Party (HCDP) gave an early boost to Democrats 101, the grassroots Democratic unity movement that is bringing a big all-day conference to Lorain County on April 1.

In January last year the local party became the first to adopt the Democratic Creed — the values statement that is central to the movement and published in "Democrats 101: A Primer for Us" by the organization's founder, J.M. "Jim" Purvis.

At the time, party Chair Karen Prelipp said, "In an effort to reach out to all Americans and cut through the rhetoric, we adopted the creed to demonstrate that we all want basically the same things — freedom, justice and the opportunity to be successful." Since then, the movement has spread across the country and more grassroots party organizations have adopted the creed, including seven more Ohio county organizations.

The conference, "Reclaiming Our American Vision and Values," is hosted by the Lorain County Democratic Women's Club in collaboration with Democrats 101 and Ohio State Rep. Joe Miller (D-Amherst) from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Spitzer Conference Center at Lorain County Community College in Elyria.

The organizers describe the purpose of the gathering as: "to unite behind our Democratic values and our Democratic vision, to resurrect our identity as a party, and as Americans." The Democrats 101 vision is stated as: "A just society ... as long as it takes." More than 350 supporters of American democracy are expected to attend, hear the speakers and join in the ten panel discussions that are planned throughout the day.

Several members of the HCDP plan to attend, including Chair Karen Prelipp, former Chair and former Norwalk Mayor Sue Lesch, and Executive Committee member and senior fellow at the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation Ginger Packert. Lesch will sit on the discussion panel for the topic, "Are religious values compatible with politics? (Democracy?)" Packert will moderate the panel discussion on the topic, "Was Abe Lincoln a Democrat?: Where do we find our soul?"

Many other grassroots leaders and officials from Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania will moderate and sit on panels. Some of the officials from Ohio are: Liz Walters, Ohio Democratic Party chair; Allison Russo, Ohio House minority leader; Sean Brennan, Ohio state representative (D-Parma); Miller; Jordan Hawkins, executive director of the Ohio House Democratic Caucus; Joel Arredondo, president of Lorain City Council; David Pepper, former chair of the Ohio Democratic Party; and Tony Giardini, former chair of the Lorain County Democratic Party.

Other moderators and panelist include: Joe Shepherd, president of United Rural Democrats of America; Paul Kendrick, executive director of Rust Belt Rising; Joe Rettof of RT Advisors; Lorie Simpson of the Miami County Ohio Democratic Party; Bill Clinton, national leader of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Pennsylvania; Bishop Tony Minor, pastor and manager of Faith Communities Engagement at MetroHealth; Armando Telles, founder of Armando Telles Strategies; Deb Ciamacca, former executive director of Promote the Vote PA; Sam Lawrence, former candidate for Ohio state representative; and Dennis Willard, president of Precision Media and Public Relations.

The organizers have published a list of panel discussion topics, as follows:

—Can you hear me now? Are rural counties relevant?

—Are religious values compatible with politics? (Democracy?)

—What color is the Democratic Party?

—Was Abe Lincoln a Democrat?: Where do we find our soul?

—Democratic Values, MAGA, and Cultural War: Why do people vote?

—What do young people want? — Do young people really affect elections?

—Is Ohio a red state?

—Are we more than a political party?

—A tale of three states: Ohio vs Michigan vs Pennsylvania

—The Road to a Just society: what we need to get there

For more information on the conference and tickets, go online to vision-and-values-event. To learn more about Democrats 101 and to get the book, go online to To read the HCDP's Democratic Creed resolution, go online to