It’s time for Mark Owens to resign or be removed from the Montgomery County Democratic Party
Kurt Hatcher, the Executive director resigned on the eve of the 2021 election. This was his resignation letter:
To my friends and fellow Democrats,
Last evening, at our regularly scheduled Central Committee meeting, many of you raised legitimate questions about mailers recently sent to voters in Dayton, Your questions deserve answers.
Let me be very clear: The Montgomery County Democratic Party did not commission the piece. It went through an established process. The Sliver and Benson-Taylor campaigns contributed the funds that ultimately paid for the piece. It was approved by Chairman Owens and an ODP staffer over my personal objections.
These mailers followed a process that has been in place for years. It is available to endorsed candidates, and allows them to send their mail at a reduced rate. In this process, a campaign creates the mailer (or works with a graphic designer to create it) and then submits it to both
MCDP and OOP at the same time for approval.
The mailers in question. including the spotshotter mailer, originated from the campaigns of Scott Sliver and Stacey Benson-Taylor.
When the spotshotter piece was submitted for approval, a staffer at 0DP had concerns about the citations and source material. He emailed back-and-forth with the vendor to clarify those concerns. Then he approved the mailer, and asked if MCDP approved as well.
I responded by saying this: “I personally don’t think it aligns with Democratic values, but ultimately Mark will have to weigh in.” I then forwarded the materials to the Chairman to review.
The ODP staffer and Chairman Owens then had a phone conversation which I did not participate in, and my concern was overruled. The piece was approved.
Since the mailing was distributed, I have been put in an increasingly untenable position. No one in the leadership of the party has consulted with me about how to manage the fallout. None of the responsible parties have come forward with apologies or explanations. I have been personally slandered on social media platforms, in addition to wild claims being made about MCDP and my role in creating and approving the piece.
It has become clear to me that our party leaders value shielding some people from consequences more than party unity, personal accountability, or professional integrity. The Chairman‘s performance during the central committee meeting on October 28 proves this. So does the absence from that meeting of any person involved with grading the mailers. As such, I can no longer stand by and half-heartedly defend the integrity of this institution. I can a longer serve as Executive Director in good conscience.
Serving the Democratic voters of Montgomery County has been an honor and a privilege. I have come to know so many community leaders and passionate advocates, and your hard work should not be tarnished by this divisive chaos. I will continue to fight for our values in other ways
Lastly for the role I played in the situation, I sincerely apologize. I deeply regret my involvement in something that has created so much pain and contributed to the propagation of racist stereotypes. It remains my hope that despite the deep divisions we feel right now, perhaps these events will become a catalyst for much-needed change and healing. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out to me.
It has long been my position that the Montgomery County Democratic Party should not endorse in primaries- their job is to elect democrats, not to pick and choose which ones in the back room.
Besides losing both Commission races with these divisive endorsements, taking part in slandering long standing democrats, Shenise Turner-Sloss and Darryl Fairchild should be the end of Chairman Owen’s reign of terror over the party. I had called for a motion for the party to not spend any money on the commission race- since all candidates were Democrats- at multiple meetings over the course of this year. Not only was I ignored- a majority of those in attendance didn’t see the damage this could do to the party. When the hit pieces came out, it further divided an already weak party. Unions, including the one who allows the party to use their building as a meeting space made it clear that this was unacceptable- as did a majority of the central committee members in attendance.
Owens was in total denial. Only when ordered to by a vote, did the party issue an apology. At no point was Owens willing to take responsibility, nor were the low-life candidates who engaged in this fratricide. The apology made the general public aware of the dysfunctional leadership of the MCDP:
MCDP Apologizes for role in campaign mailer
The Montgomery County Democratic Party deeply regrets its role in approving two political mailers that were sent this week to some Dayton voters regarding the Dayton City Commission race. The negative mailers, which were submitted by the campaigns of the party-endorsed candidates, made unfair and offensive claims against two Democratic candidates who were not endorsed by the party.
“The MCDP approved two mailings that violated the rules of the Ohio Democratic Party and the values we as Democrats hold,” said county party chairman Mark Owens. “As chairman, I apologize to Darryl Fairchild and Shenise Turner-Sloss for allowing these mailings to go out.”
The Montgomery County Democratic Party Central Committee voted Thursday night to not only apologize to the candidates, but to also make a clear statement that Commissioner Fairchild and candidate Turner-Sloss – and all their supporters – are valued members of the county party.
Owens said the party will be more vigilant in screening mailers submitted by the campaigns of endorsed candidates.
“In the future,” Owens said, “we will not allow negative mailings to go out against candidates who are registered Democrats.”
My calls for an investigation and the holding of people accountable were unheeded. I sent an email to the Ohio Democratic Party Chair, Liz Walters on Friday- despite asking for an acknowledgement of receipt, none has arrived.
Attached is a PDF letter with links- of the following:
29 Oct 2021
Chair, Ohio Democratic Party
In last night’s Montgomery County Democratic Party meeting there was heated discussion about the hit pieces mailed under your watch. A motion was made and miraculously passed for the local party to issue a statement condemning the mailings and to apologize to the two democratic candidates who were smeared.
I don’t believe that’s enough. I called for the resignation of the Party chairman, and the endorsed candidates to withdraw from the race. They have embarrassed the party, using Mcarthy/Trump tactics to further divide us.
When it came time to investigate who did this, people were unwilling to investigate and hold anyone accountable. I ask you, as party chair, to run a complete investigation and hold people accountable. This isn’t the first time this has happened. See also this post.
The Montgomery County Democratic Party has a long history of nepotism, favoritism, and incestuous relationships. We’ve allowed party members to hire a convicted rapist into the Board of Elections without so much as a job application. We’ve endorsed candidates who later were sent to prison for corruption (multiple times) and we allow the party meetings to be run in a very undemocratic way.
I call on you to implement the following changes to force this party into compliance.
1. No endorsements in primaries, picking one democrat over another. That’s for Democrats to decide, not just the precinct captains (many of whom are appointed, or patronage job holders).
2. Remove all elected officials and patronage job holding people from the central committee. This has allowed the inner circle of the party to circle their wagons and push out new people- with the line “you have to wait your turn” to run- for decades.
3. Require all votes to be in secret- using ballots, or electronic voting tools, so that precinct captains are allowed to represent their districts- instead of be held in contempt for challenging this status quo. (We raise hands).
4. Eliminate the separate meeting of the “executive committee” of the party. With only 360 precincts and often, as few as 30 members in attendance, two meetings in one night- and counting a quorum of less than 10% of the body is criminal.
5. Eliminate the “Screening committee” from the party constitution.
6. Remove the “judgeship for life” deal from the party. We can’t have local judges that aren’t accountable.
7. Consider pushing statewide a creation of a new county elected official- a Chief Ethics Officer, to help citizens prosecute elected officials who violate the Ohio Sunshine Laws. Why we elect a coroner, a county engineer, a clerk of courts, and a county recorder- mostly professional administrative positions with zero political accountability – and have no one to represent the people in keeping our government accountable is criminal.
8. Create a policy that all democrats can take advantage of the party’s non-profit mailing privileges.
9. Investigate practices of the Montgomery County Board of Elections to eliminate non-party endorsed candidates from the ballot. It’s time to evaluate process, procedure and forms that are used to eliminate the average citizen from running.
10. Investigate criminal behavior by multiple elected officials in Montgomery County that hurt the democratic process. I.E. – total inaction on a school board member who didn’t live in his district, a City Commissioner running for office while working as a Confidential Informant for the FBI with an agreement to resign if re-elected, the refusal of the party to call for the criminal prosecution of Sheriff Phil Plummer for the torture of restrained inmates in the Montgomery County Jail are just a few examples
We need a better party in Montgomery County.
I’d like to work with you to solve these problems.
Elected Precinct Captain
My 501(c)4, Reconstructing Dayton, is doing an analysis of how many races the party failed to field candidates for. Considering there were even seats where no candidates ran, or ran unopposed in many races, or there were no democrats in the mix, it’s questionable what kind of party Mr. Owens has been running since he pushed out the former party boss, who did the same sorts of things, as had the party boss before him.
It’s time for a people powered party, more interested in serving the public, promoting Democratic values, instead of a party more interested in fear and intimidation, lifetime appointments for judges, patronage jobs for insiders and pay to play by our corrupt endorsed candidates (Clayton Luckie, Joey D. Williams, Roshawn Winburn, Joyce Cameron, were all endorsed candidates before they were prosecuted in the “culture of corruption” investigation by the Feds).
David I guess I’m slow to understand how it happened that both the ODP and the MCDP approved flyers and then after there was push-back from Democrats, the ODP and Mark Owens seem to say that it was all a mistake. This is a telling sentence: “Owens said the party will be more vigilant in screening mailers submitted by the campaigns of endorsed candidates.” Next time we’ll be vigilant? That’s a big admission of guilt. Gee if we had just been paying more attention this wouldn’t have happened, but next time we’ll try harder. Kurt claims that, in fact, he was vigilant, but that his calls of alarm were ignored. I never understood why the movers and shakers in the party wanted to endorse Sliver and Benson-Taylor. I didn’t get the feeling that Mark was going along with others who were pushing these endorsements. I’ve never understood why the tiny group that decides things in the MCDP wouldn’t support Darrell Fairchild. I couldn’t understand who on the Central Committee pushed for the MCDP to endorse Rev Ward over Rev Fairchild for the vacated seat on the Dayton City Commission (June 2018). I wrote about it here: Elected Precinct Leaders At The MCDP Reorganization Must Advance A Plan To Build Respect And Support For The Party One It is truer today what I wrote then: “The central issue that the MCDP Reorganization Meeting must deal with is how to build respect and support for the Democratic Party. We must deal with the core reasons that so many Democrats stay home and refuse to vote.” It appears that Mark approved the flyers and you’ve got to think that his motivation was that he wanted the endorsed candidates to win and that he wanted them to win regardless of the blowback that he must have known would be one consequence. I don’t understand why this election was so crucial that Mark would compromise his reputation for Sliver and Benson-Taylor victories. I’d be interested in hearing what you think. After Mark abruptly retired from his Clerk of Court position, I figured shortly before the Reorganization Meeting he… Read more »
@Mike. You and I disagree. There is no reason to “Endorse” one Democrat over another.
The primary problem in the party comes from the fact that many of the precinct captains have to vote and attend to keep their patronage jobs. And- elected officials and their spouses should not be voting members.
Our job is to help democrats win office. To create a platform and policies that are better for the community. Not the party.
We have to move to registered ballots- that are recorded – but not public until the vote is tallied.
No screening committee- no executive committee. Ever.
Owens is guilty. We don’t need democrats like him, Sliver or Benson Taylor in the party. They are divisive- and in it for themselves- not the greater good.
I only planned to vote for Shenise but the mailer made my family support Fairchild as well. Sometimes mailers have an inverse effect. An unintended consequence of a bad decision. I used to like Scott Sliver, but have lost total respect for him as a result of his decisions with this run for office. I see he got the fewest votes of any candidate. Maybe it is time the BOE put independents in positions to reduce the cost to tax payers and not play favorites in the election process. Most voters in the county are undeclared meaning that they refuse to be labeled by voting in what they have been lead to believe are partisan primaries. The only time elections are partisan in Ohio are even year elections for President , Governor and county commissioners. Odd year elections are for local candidates and are non partisan which means voters are not labeled and can vote how they choose in primary elections.
One of the funny things that happened in 2009 is that many people came up to me claiming to have voted for me but when I checked their voting record, they never voted at all. Personally, I think election day should be a national holiday and if you don’t show up at the polls you should be fined. You have a right to not vote for any candidate but you should show up at the polls to exercise that right. Maybe the Feds could offer a $50 tax credit for showing up to vote. Just a novel idea to increase participation.
David — I don’t think that we disagree. I’d support a no endorsement plank in the Constitution. The proposal to the 2018 Reorganization I listed were improvements to endorsement practice that I hoped would attract a majority support — these included prohibiting endorsements prior to the deadline for filing and included an increase in the super-majority needed to endorse in a primary (from 2/3 to 3/4) — but without Mark’s support these improvements failed to get the needed votes. A proposal to completely eliminate primary endorsements would have had even less support.
The only way to change the practices of the MCDP is for a majority of Central Committee members who attend the 2022 Reorganization Meeting to agree to make the needed Constitutional changes. Liz Walters thankfully does has the authority to coerce the MCDP to make the changes that you call for. And, we shouldn’t wish for authoritative control. Our challenge is to create a grassroots movement that will elect a new Central Committee that will change the MCDP Constitution. This movement that is needed is one that would result in all of the 360 precincts fielding a candidate seeking MCDP transformation.
Those of us who want transformation should agree on a comprehensive constitutional proposal. I believe the way forward is to write a proposal for a new constitution that is inspirational and innovative. The foundation for such a new constitution has already been established in the work that was done in 2018 — the first four of the nine part proposal I listed in my first comment are already in the MCDP Constitution. These aspire for an very different — a grassroots controlled — MCDP. The new constitution that would inspire Democrats to seek election to the Central Committee is one that would included the needed provisions to implement the mission (as indicated in the new preamble) and the new statement of purpose agreed to at the 2018 Reorganization Meeting.
Let’s keep it real, remove Mark Owens and replace him with who? What will that fix? You think the next sleezy democrat will change anything? Lol David you are a good guy but such a clueless crusader. Democrats are cockroaches that feed off a collapsing society and Montgomery County is a classic example. A corrupt garbage zone that no decent person wants to live in with Dayton as the tip of the spear of the cesspool.