LORAIN — Phil Van Treuren, the Republican challenging Lorain County Commissioner Ted Kalo, plans to host a reception for Kalo’s fellow Democrats, some of whom the Amherst councilman said are backing him.
“I’m making a concerted effort to reach out to Democrats this election, and this is one part of that,” Van Treuren said.
The event will be 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at the Charleston Coffee House at 630 Broadway in Lorain, down the street from the President Barack Obama’s local campaign headquarters and the former home of Kalo’s carpet business.
Sheffield Lake Councilman Kerry McCullough, who chairs “Democrats for Van Treuren,” said he has nothing against Kalo personally, but he believes Van Treuren is the better choice in November.
“He’s young, he’s got some good ideas, he seems, to me, on top of things,” McCullough said.
Although Sheffield Lake is a nonpartisan city, McCullough said he’s a longtime Democrat.
“Really, what it comes down to is, it just doesn’t seem like our county commissioners are getting things done. They’re threatening jobs all the time,” McCullough said.
The commissioners have slashed spending and made layoffs in recent years as they’ve grappled with reduced revenues. Those budget woes have prompted the commissioners to ask voters three times to raise the county sales tax, but those efforts have been resoundingly defeated.
McCullough said he has his disagreements with Van Treuren — he backed the sales tax hikes, which Van Treuren opposed, for instance — but he feels that the Republican has respected his opinion.
Kalo said he’s not surprised that some Democrats would back his Republican opponent over a member of their own party. He said he doesn’t take it personally, and people are entitled to vote for whomever they want.
“People vote for the person they think is going to do the best job or who they have a personal relationship with,” Kalo said. “That’s how it is in our country.”
Kalo pointed out that he has Republican backers and he even has “Republicans for Kalo” T-shirts available.
Van Treuren said he doesn’t think party lines are as important in local elections as they are at the state or national level.
“My constituents have known that I fight for the residents regardless of what their party is,” he said.
McCullough wouldn’t be the first Democrat in recent years to break ranks with his party to back a Republican in a commissioner’s race.
Lorain City Councilman Dennis Flores, D-2nd Ward, supported now-county Commissioner Tom Williams, a Republican, in 2010 when Williams defeated Democrat Joe Koziura.
But Flores, who also is a Democratic precinct committeeman, paid a price for backing Williams. Lorain County Democratic Party Chairman Anthony Giardini has fought to keep Flores out of party meetings and actively campaigned against him in his re-election effort as a committeeman, although Flores kept his position.
Giardini has said that as a member of the party’s leadership, Flores has a responsibility to support Democratic candidates.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or email@example.com.