Friday, August 18, 2006

Catching up with Vernon Sykes

First off, the breaking news from

    Former State Rep. Vernon Sykes, who is seeking to reclaim his legislative seat, pleaded guilty this morning to a reduced charge in connection with his drunken-driving case.

    * * *

    In a deal worked out with special prosecutor Patricia Ritzert, who was hired by the City of Akron to handle the case, Sykes pleaded guilty to being in physical control of a vehicle after consuming alcohol.
As it happens, yesterday YellowDogSammy invited me to crash his one-on-one interview with Vernon Sykes. I showed up about quarter to two when YDS and I were planning to attend the Betty Sutton event. I walked into the interview as Sykes was talking about his experience trying to organize people in government programs, which was a very interesting discussion and one I’m sure YDS will post. I had two minutes to ask a couple questions which elicited about fifteen minutes of answers.

I started asking about the odd primary challenge he faced. It was fairly well known that neophyte and pre-teen impersonator Patrick Bravo was getting some fairly substantial help from local Dem leaders. Sykes is clearly not happy it happened, but went to pains to emphasize that he’s moving past the incident and as such, doesn’t expect any blowback.

More generally, he lays much of the blame for the decades-long party doldrums on the party forgetting about grassroots organizing and GOTV efforts – a claim certainly consistent with my observations. Happily he says that Redfern is a far more grassroots-friendly party chair. As I’ve said, I am watching and wondering.