The idea that change doesn't happen overnight was the prevailing theme of the Lycoming County Democratic Committee's annual meeting, held Sunday at Zafar Grotto. Committee members were encouraged to talk to voters, listen to their concerns and explain why they think it is important to keep Democrats in office in this year's election.
State Democratic Party Chair Jim Burn told committee members that voters may need more encouragement than usual this year to get out and vote Democrat.
"(Voters are) frustrated because the change isn't coming as fast as they had anticipated," he said. "I would encourage every Democrat to get involved with this coordinated campaign."
Lycoming County Democratic Committee Chair Jessie Bloom shares her thoughts on local Democratic politicians at the Lycoming County Democratic Committee annual meeting, held Sunday at Zafar Grotto.
Burn said the rumors that Democrats are about to be booted out of office are just that - rumors.
"Don't believe the pundits," he said. "We're going to prove them wrong in November."
Among the candidates for office in attendance at the meeting was state Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township, running for re-election in the 77th District. Conklin emphasized his goal to serve the voters rather than big business.
"The people I work for are the ones who put me here, the ones who can't buy influence," he said.
He encouraged local Democrats to do their best in recruiting voters.
"We need your help," he said. "We need you to get out; we need you to turn the votes."
Conklin also is the party's nominee for lieutenant governor, facing off against the Republican candidate, Bucks County commissioner Jim Cawley.
State Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, running for re-election in the 83rd District, said giving Democrats a voice in government has created a healthier environment for discussion and debate.
"That's why this election is so important," he said. "Because for eight years, we didn't have an open discussion ... we didn't have an open debate."
Mirabito championed House Bill 1880, a piece of legislation he proposed that would post most state spending on a public website. The bill was passed by the House and is waiting for passage in the Senate.
"It begins to bring transparency and accountability to state government," he said.
Mirabito said three things must be done for Democrats to succeed in the upcoming election: Democrats must build unity within the party; they must energize the Democratic base; and they must reach out to Republican voters.
Mirabito said Democrats don't need to polarize issues, isolating Republicans.
"We have to build the conversation around the issues that people face in their day-to-day lives," he said. "That is how we won the elections in 2008."
Mirabito added that the worst thing Democrats can do is take the current government for granted.
"Do not take this election for granted for the 83rd District," he said.
Greg Stewart, chair of the Democratic Committee in Centre County, spoke on behalf of Senatorial candidate Joe Sestak.
Stewart said Sestak cares about young people and wants to rebuild Pennsylvania's economy, "so that our young people have a reason to come back home."
Stewart pointed out that Sestak is a member of the House Small Business Committee and said Sestak wants to represent the voters, while his opponent wants to represent Wall Street.
"He's running for the right reasons," he said.
Lycoming County Democratic Committee Chair Jessie Bloom added that Democrats need to encourage voters to head to the polls in support of U.S. Rep. Chris Carney, D-Dimock, serving the 10th District, and candidate Michael Pipe, running in the 5th District for the U.S. House. Carney and Pipe were both unable to attend; Carney is currently serving his duty in the Navy Reserves.
"Chris Carney has done a lot, not only for our area, but for the whole district," Bloom said. "We need to keep him there."
Bloom said local Democrats need to spread the word this year, to everyone they know: "The Democrats are working for the people, and not for Wall Street."