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Central Ohio Young Black Democrats Break Tradition, Endorse Yes We Can Candidate

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Central Ohio Young Black Democrats (COYBD) broke tradition last night, making candidate endorsements of their own for the first time. The move caused a wave in the county and state party, and involved resignations from several COYBD Executive Committee members.

It started when the Central Ohio chapter decided to recommend Columbus City Council candidate Jasmine Ayres for endorsement. If her race is successful, Ayres will replace one of three incumbents running in November: Mitchell Brown, Priscilla Tyson, and Shannon Hardin. This will allow local independent political organization Yes We Can, of which Ayres is a member, to more effectively influence city council and its policies.

“Jasmine Ayres is a member of ours,” said Brittany Eddy, the recently-resigned First Vice President of COYBD. “She has fully supported us. Mitch Brown, who the seat was for, did not support us in that way.”

Eddy, along with Secretary Kiara Richardson, Second Vice President De’Juan Stevens and President Chris Scott, resigned due to tension between COYBD leadership and the Franklin County Democratic Party. The county party asserted that COYBD was chartered with the Franklin County Democrats, and that if an endorsement outside of the county party were to take place, the organization risked being dismantled.

 

“So with those threats,” said Eddy, “[it] put them in a position to not really want to be part of the process anymore.”

Ohio Young Black Democrats (OYBD) President Dontavius Jarrells said it was then that they intervened, working with the Ohio Democratic Party to allow an endorsement from COYBD.

At last night’s meeting, the group followed through on the endorsement process. Ayres, as well as incumbents Shannon Hardin and Priscilla Tyson, were recommended for endorsement, along with party-endorsed School Board candidates Ramona Reyes, Michael Cole and Dominic Paretti, and Yes We Can School Board candidate Erin Upchurch.

The organization voted to endorse Reyes, Cole, Paretti, and Upchurch, but Ayres, Hardin and Tyson did not get enough votes for endorsement.

After the meeting, Eddy said COYBD was looking for a candidate that better represented communities of color.

“I wouldn’t say city council is not representing the black community. I think we can do a better job at it,” Eddy said. “I think this, again, really came down to an individual seat that unfortunately got taken out of proportion.

“We felt as an organization, as a chapter, that there was a candidate — Jasmine Ayres — that represented our communities best, and in the seat of the individual that is currently endorsed by the Franklin County party, we did not agree with that.”

Scott released a statement today about last night’s meeting, responding to the endorsements and further commenting on his, Stevens and Eddy’s resignations:

“Our resignation does not signal the end of the progress that has been made this year, but opens the opportunity to heal, repair, and move forward into building the most successful party we can,” Scott said. “There is no progress without sacrifice. The message that intimidation has no place in the democratic process has been sent and echoed, and now we move onward.”

For more information, visit coybd.org.

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