Brian O'Malley won election as President of the Young Democrats of Allegheny County in his own right. The election was held this last Wednesday evening, at Deja Vu lounge in the Strip District.
One-time favored candidate Breen Masciotra lost to O'Malley by a vote of 33-18.
A third candidate, Justin Lewis, withdrew his name from consideration just prior to the vote.
O'Malley ascended to the presidency early this summer under unusual circumstances. President Ken Wolfe stepped down after having exposed a city Redd Up crew wearing political campaign gear while on the job.
Vice-president Jessica McCurdy passed on the opportunity to rise to the presidency. O'Malley, holding the office of either secretary or treasurer on the executive board at that time, ascended to the presidency for the interim.
Before the election, we asked both of the contending candidates how much was at stake that evening.
"I wouldn't say there's anything directly at stake," O'Malley told the Comet just prior to the vote. "We both have great ideas."
Meanwhile, Masciotra opined that, "Honestly, I think the future of the organization is at stake. I'd like to shift the focus."
Both candidates spoke of the importance of growing the organization, but their strategies for and definitions of "growth" differed sharply.
O'Malley emphasized his good relationships with current Democratic officeholders. He credits recent events with Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, County Executive Dan Onorato, and State Representatives Joe Preston and Don Walko for having attracted new members to the organization.
"We had six paid members in June. Now we have between 42 and 64."
Furthermore, O'Malley indicated that the YDAC can exert influence on those officeholders in return. "Candidates pay attention to us."
Masciotra criticized the incumbent regime for a lack of focus on mobilizing a regional voting block of young Democratic voters. She identifies a potential field 130,000 eligible such voters -- 7,000 of which are valued "four star" voters -- that she says is being underutilized.
She encourages increased voter registration efforts, and outreach to "non-traditional" voters.
"There's a value to social events, and candidate meet-and-greets," Masciotra conceded. Yet she also insists the YDAC must be more about "bringing in new people, diverse people" to the larger Democratic tent.
Masciotra allowed that resources are limited, but insisted the YDAC could be doing more. She also faulted the recent leadership for issues relating to transparency.
One-time presidential candidate Justin Lewis was rumored to control the support of maybe six or seven members. When he bowed out, he threw his support to the incumbent, and eventual victor, Brian O'Malley.
In doing so, he cited the room full of so many new members as evidence that the incumbent leadership is on the right track. He echoed Malley's enthusiasm for officeholder events as a major draw, and credited him for pushing changes to "give back power" by scaling back the presidency.
To the extent that Masciotra was indeed the front-runner in September, the decision to delay the vote for about six weeks must have worked against her. All the same, that delay did not seem to achieve its intended purpose of significantly boosting diversity in the short term.
Instead of being the lone African-American in the room, as he was six weeks ago, Shawn Carter was on this occasion one of only two or maybe three.
Carter maintains that upwards of twenty young African-American Democrats stand ready to join the YDAC sometime in January. Asked why these new recruits did not produce themselves to take part in the election, Carter replied, "because they weren't about to vote for either one of these candidates."
Paul McKrell, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association of Young Democrats (PAYD), emceed the event and counted the votes. He emphasized at every opportunity the importance for all YDAC newbies to remain active and engaged beyond the election, regardless of the outcome.
Dietrich Kelley won the office of Vice President by unanimous voice vote. She was recruited by O'Malley to join his "slate" for the executive board only in the week prior.
Shannon Connoly retained her position as Secretary, and Michael Phillips won election to Treasurer.
Former president Ken Wolfe was in the room as a regular member, being as nondescript as humanly possible.