SIDNEY — Shelby County Democrats opened their 2016 campaign headquarters Monday with speeches, hot dogs, homemade brownies and exhortations to vote early.
The office, at 111 Court St., will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Hours will expand during October.
Linda Meininger, of Sidney, incumbent Shelby County treasurer who is running for re-election in the county’s only contested race, told the party faithful who crowded into the small office that she got her work ethic from her father, Gerald Billing, who had also served as county treasurer.
“He told me (to) do the right thing every day and I would succeed in whatever I chose to do,” she said. “I will be in the office over 32 years and your treasurer for going on 14 years. During that time, my job as treasurer has always been No. 1 and politics No. 2. My serving isn’t just something I do, but the heart of who I am.
“The task of leadership does not only fall on those we elect. It requires all of us and our various skills. As a county, we need to enhance our collaboration with the city, community groups and the private sector. That is what makes it be the best it can be for our residents,” she added.
Later, Meininger told the Daily News that she hopes she is re-elected to, among other things, see the new land bank initiative through to completion. As treasurer, she sits on the land bank committee. The project calls for demolition of vacant, deteriorating houses.
Bob Geuy, of Orange Township, running unopposed for a fifth term as Shelby County engineer, said that he’s supporting the local party by attending Democratic events and answering questions about various offices and what officeholders do.
“I’m encouraging people to look at the candidates, at the people themselves,” he said.
When he addressed the group, he outlined his background as a University of Dayton graduate, an employee of the engineer’s office for 36 years and the engineer since 1999.
“I love every day of my job,” he said.
A regional representative of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, who said campaign policy prohibited her from giving her name or speaking to the press, encouraged people to take advantage of Ohio’s early voting opportunity.
“In the last two (presidential) elections, it was the early votes that made us the winner. We didn’t win on election day,” she said. She noted that ballots cast in early voting, unlike provisional ballots, are counted with the ballots cast on election day. Merrill Asher, a Democrat member of the Shelby County Board of Elections, said that citizens can vote beginning Oct. 12.
Party leaders also asked for volunteers to participate in phone banks.
“Before I did any, I did not realize how effective it is,” said Ruth Alstaetter, of Botkins.
Not everyone at the event was from Shelby County. Bruce Stover had come from Celina.
“This was my first opportunity to go in on a Democratic organizing office,” he said. “I’m a vet. I care about veteran issues. I care about social issues. I’m an active political follower. Generally in my life, I’ve voted Democrat, but not always. I think anyone who wouldn’t vote Democrat (this year) is kind of silly.”
Locals are ready to be actively involved in the campaign to put their presidential candidate into the White House.
“I want to support Hillary Clinton and all the Democrats in Shelby County,” said Jan Abbott, of Sidney.
“I just want to contribute in some way to a winning effort for Hillary,” echoed Ellen Eschmeyer, of rural Shelby County near New Knoxville. “I probably will phone bank and maybe knock on doors. I think it can make a difference.”
Shelby County Democratic Party Committee Chairman Tom Kerrigan announced several upcoming events: a fundraising dinner at Earl’s Island Pavilion, Sept. 22; a television debate-watch party, Sept. 26; a pizza party, Sept. 29, scheduled to follow the Sidney High School/Piqua High School football game. He also said free yard signs in support of the campaigns of Clinton, Meininger and Janet Garrett, who is running for a seat in the U.S. House of Represenatives, are available now. Signs supporting Ted Strickland’s campaign for a U.S. Senate seat will be available soon.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.