The executive director of the Lucas County Democrat Party resigned today amid criticism of the party's shortage of endorsed candidates on the upcoming general election ballot.
Yvonne Harper, 64, of Toledo, stepped down at the request of the party chairman, Ron Rothenbuhler, he confirmed to The Blade.
The move was the apparent result of pressure among party leaders after an embarrassing showing in the primary election. Neither of the two Democratic candidates for mayor - Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez and Councilman Joe McNamara - made it through the primary. Instead, Toledo voters will choose between two independent candidates, incumbent Mayor Mike Bell and city Councilman Mike Collins.
It's the first time in modern memory that no Democrat will appear on the general ballot. Also, the party came up short in candidates for council, with only three endorsed Democrats on the list of 12 candidates on the ballot. Two of the three are incumbents who landed outside the top six positions in the primary, putting them at risk of being defeated. Incumbents Adam Martinez and Shaun Enright finished seventh and eighth respectively.
Pete Gerken, a Democratic Lucas County commissioner and member of the executive committee, said it's appropriate for the leadership of an organization to be accountable when there's been a failure, though he said there was not a call for Mr. Rothenbuhler to resign. He said the responsibility for day-to-day activities of the party falls on the executive director. Ms. Harper was part-time and was paid a stipend.
"Accountability for failure starts at the top, and that is what has transpired in recent weeks. There was a movement by some who thought it was time for her to move on, given the activities," Mr. Gerken said.
He said the party should focus in the remaining weeks before the election in helping its candidates for city council, Toledo Board of Education, municipal clerk of courts, and municipal judge to get elected.