There’s been a change in leadership in the Democratic party Central Committee.
Dallas Hurt announced at a recent meeting that he would be resigning as Democratic Central Committee Chairman, effective immediately, citing a dysfunctional executive committee and what he called “personal vendettas” destroying the elections process in Brown County. Hurt remains a member of the Democratic Central Committee as well as a board member of the Brown County Board of Elections.
“Since the primary election of 2006, our local party has split into two different factions,” Hurt wrote in a letter to the Democratic Central Committee. “This resulted in the vacancy of half the committee seats in the 2008 Election. The local party has limped along since then, trying to fill vacancies, rallying behind certain candidates, but leading no campaigns. It is a fact our executive committee has become dysfunctional.
“In January 2015, you and Ralph Quallen asked me to take the appointment of the Secretary of State for the unexpired Board of Elections seat of Ralph Quallen through Spring of 2016. I have fulfilled all the positive things you asked of me to this date and I balk at the request to hobble and render the Board of Elections tied and paralyzed so as to sabotage the election process.
“I will not let personal vendettas destroy the elections process in this county.”
In Hurt’s place, Ken P. McNeely, Jr. was voted in as the new Central Committee Chairman and will serve out the rest of Hurt’s term, through next March.
In an additional e-mail to the News Democrat, Hurt added that he had lost the support of a majority of members in the Central Committee due to the issues surrounding former Board of Elections Director Kathy Jones’ departure from board and her fringe benefit payout controversy with the Brown County Board of Commissioners.
“This current dispute over the county’s investigation of Kathy Jones’ request of approximately $25,700 in fringe benefits payout from four years service, the commissioners’ finding it was not all legitimate, and her attempt to be rehired for the third time after resigning August 5, has split the committee and the party,” Hurt wrote in an e-mail.
“As chair I lost the support of a majority of the committee persons left remaining after several resignations during the last year alone. At recent meetings of the committee I have been asked to use my seat on the Board of Elections to tie the votes up; use the position to ‘throw everything into the lap of the Secretary of State, in order to prove that an election can not be put on without Director Kathy Jones’. I don’t believe that is true and I resist being pushed like that.
The majority of the current committee has boycotted our county fair booth and our annual fall dinner this month. Others have just gone to the sidelines to avoid the negative image being broadcast. None of this serves our membership nor the public well. I’m tired of trying to breathe life into it. It is time to let someone else try.”
Democratic Central Committee member Don Thomas disputed Hurt’s claims that the majority of the current committee members boycotted the county fair booth at the 2015 Brown County Fair.
“That is not true,” Thomas said. “Myself and Jim Castle were there. We were scheduled to work Thursday and Friday, but we missed Thursday because we had a special Central Committee meeting at 3:00 p.m. We didn’t boycott it. But (Dallas) didn’t work the fair booth at all.”
Thomas added that he was glad to see Hurt resign from the chairman position, and he’s looking forward to helping build more involvement in the Democratic party in Brown County.
“Had he not resigned, we were going to ask for his resignation or vote him out of the position,” Thomas said. “We are eager to try and stimulate more activity in the Democratic party.”