While their Republican counterparts remain split over their party chair vote, the Blair County Democrats have smoothly transitioned into new leadership during the past month.
Gillian Kratzer of Altoona, the county party's new chairwoman, has moved to solidify outside alliances and press gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf since committee members approved her in a
unanimous June 9 vote, she
Kratzer succeeds eight-year
chairman Frank Rosenhoover, who stepped down while maintaining posts in the county, regional and state party.
She takes over a party that, while widely outnumbered in Blair County, still has the numbers to fight in some local and state races.
"Every vote counts," she said.
Kratzer said she hopes to build stronger alliances with the county's labor unions. While local unions and Democrats have long maintained a solid working relationship, she said, they could better combine their efforts in coming elections.
Their immediate work lies in support for Tom Wolf, the York-based business owner challenging Gov. Tom Corbett, and for Alanna Hartzok, the Franklin County Democrat standing against Rep. Bill Shuster, R-9th District, she said.
Rosenhoover, who had discussed plans to step down before the June 9 vote, said Kratzer represents a new generation of leadership. Formerly the county Democrats' go-to officer for website work and technology, she is pursuing a political science degree at Penn State Altoona.
She must work to re-invigorate a party rank-and-file that can't win every local race but has a serious shot at others, particularly in the City of Altoona, Rosenhoover said.
As of the May primary, Blair County tallied 45,594 registered Republicans to 27,937 Democrats.
"Lately there just seems to be a reluctance on the part of [Blair] Democrats to get out there," Rosenhoover said, comparing their activism with the Republican Party's. "It's hard to get people who are willing to spend that kind of money and put forward that kind of effort."
In an online post thanking the party for her position, Kratzer pressed party members to meet and volunteer as she moves into leadership.
"With your help, we're going to have a great four years ahead of us," she said.
Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.