Orleans Dems have a new leader
Jeff Lewis replaces Jeanne Crane, who led the party for 25 years
CARLTON – Orleans County Democrats have a new leader after long-time party chairwoman Jeanne Crane stepped down.
Crane will continue as a vice chairwoman while Jeff Lewis takes the reins as party leader in Orleans County.
Crane, a retired nurse at Medina Memorial Hospital, has been party chairwoman in Orleans County for about 25 years and has served on the committee for about 50 years.
She said Lewis, a senior vice president with PathStone, has many connections in the region, including with elected officials.
Lewis has worked with PathStone (previously known as Rural Opportunities) since 1976. He lives in Carlton.
He wants to get more people involved in local politics. He welcomes people to connect with the Orleans County Democratic Party on its website (click here) or by sending him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Democrats in the county are outnumbered by Republicans by 2-to-1, with about 11,000 registered Republicans to about 5,500 Democrats in the county. Republicans fill nearly all of the elected positions at the local level.
“I strongly believe in the two-party system,” Lewis said. “In Orleans County, we’ve never not had the two-party system.”
Lewis said he favors progressive ideas socially, but considers himself a conservative with budgeting and management.
He is concerned about the federal government’s direction under President Donald Trump. He sees weakened regulations for the environment, a more vulnerable Social Security, uncertainty over health care coverage and a push towards corporate interests over small businesses.
“The institutions that I believe in at the federal level are under attack,” Lewis said.
Lewis urged the community to be engaged in the election process, and share their opinions without disparaging others.
“Being involved in this role is a civic duty,” he said. “I can get along with almost anybody. At the end of the day we might disagree but we can still get along.”
Crane said she has enjoyed serving as party leader for a quarter century, even though it is a difficult challenge for a Democrat in Orleans County.
She appreciates the courage of the local candidates and the passion of the many local party volunteers, who try to get more voters registered.
Crane attended two party national conventions – 2016 when Hillary Clinton was the presidential nominee and 2012 when Barack Obama was seeking a second term.
She has met many high-profile Democrats including Al Gore, Bill and Hillary Clinton at the White House, the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Al Sharpton.
She remain on the state committee and on the board of directors for the Democratic Rural Conference.
“I’ve really enjoyed it but it’s time to get younger people involved and new ideas,” Crane said.
She is encouraged by two new members on the local Democratic Party Committee. Beth Wood is serving as secretary and Kriss Sniffen is the treasurer.