Members of the city Democratic Committee are usually ushered in quietly by petition instead of elected at the polls.
Not this year.
Eight months after a contentious split in the city Democratic Party threw three City Council seats to Republicans, including those of mayor and public works commissioner, members of both Democratic factions are looking to fill the committee ranks.
That means that if you’re an enrolled Democrat in the city, you’ll probably be asked to choose committee members at the Sept. 9 primary.
Nearly 100 people are running for the 50 committee seats, which would force primaries in at least 22 of the 25 election districts. Candidates could turn in petitions to the county Board of Elections until 5 p.m. Thursday.
By 2 p.m., 90 had done so, and at least six more came in after that.
It’s rare to have so many challenges for committee member seats, said Lou Schneider, the city party’s chairman for the past two years and a committee member for more than a decade.
“Since 1996, I’ve never been challenged,” Schneider said.
Some of the current committee members are running in different election districts from the seats they hold now, since candidates don’t have to run where they live. Schneider said some of those people may have originally signed up for another district because a committee spot there was open, and now they’re switching back to where they live.
“Or the other possibility is they may feel they have a better chance trying to [run a] primary in one district where they feel the other people are weak,” Schneider said.
Schneider himself is being challenged in his district by committee member Nancy Goldberg, who is now a member in a different district.
All of the candidates will be invited to a committee meeting on Saturday, Schneider said.
After the primary, Schneider plans to hold a reorganization meeting in late September so the committee can elect its officers.
All committee members serve two-year terms.
More from The Daily Gazette: