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Portage County Commissioner Deemed a Rising Star, Part of DNC Keynote

photo of Kathleen Clyde
Portage County Commissioner Kathleen Clyde is considered a rising star in the Democratic Party.

John Kasich has been getting a lot of attention as a speaker at the Democratic National Convention this week. But there’s another Ohioan who has a starring role as well.

Portage County Commissioner Kathleen Clyde is one of 17 Democrats designated as rising stars who will deliver a joint keynote speech Tuesday night.

Clyde served eight years as a State Representative and narrowly lost a bid for Secretary of State in 2018. 

"I’m so glad to get to do this," Clyde said. "Ohio deserves this recognition at our once every 4 years party convention."

The rising stars are a mixture of local and national leaders. Some are legislators, some are members of Congress like Pennsylvania's Conor Lamb (D- PA 17th district). Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is also among the group.  

Clyde believes there's a reason she was selected. "I think this invitation came about because Joe Biden recognizes the importance of Ohio in sending him to the White House," she said. "I think that because of extreme gerrymandering and money in our political system that weighs heavily toward the GOP, I think people may think this state is more Republican than it actually is." 

Clyde says Biden sees past those cynical notions and sees Ohio voters as wanting a president who will be better able to handle the challenges of the office, such as the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus.

She's confident in some recent polls that give Biden the edge in Ohio. "He's been to Ohio, Ohio voters know him. He was part of a ticket that won Ohio twice," Clyde said. The Obama/Biden ticket carried Ohio in 2008 and 2012, but Trump won the state in 2016. Clyde thinks Biden can win it back. "I think that he’s the kind of candidate that cares about us here, that cares about our issues and can do well in the Buckeye state."

Clyde is honored to be called a rising star in the party. "I think it signifies that there’s a new generation of leaders ready to step up," she said. And she thinks, like other great leaders, Biden is looking for people to pass the torch to in the future. "I think he sees a lot of promise out here in the states and in our local communities with Democratic leaders that are in the trenches working hard, standing up for Democratic values."  

While Clyde supports the decision to stage the convention virtually to reduce risks caused by COVID-19, she says that has made it challenging. It's dramatically decreased the time alloted for speakers. For this joint address, convention organizers sent video equipment to each of the 17 participants. "I definitely recorded more than what will be shown, but I’m confident they’ll do a nice job with the editing process," Clyde said. She anticipates her portion will last about a minute. "I’ve been telling people, ‘Make sure you don’t blink when you’re watching tonight,’ because it’s hard to split that time. But no matter what amount of time it comes out to, I’m so proud to get included," she said. 

A Northeast Ohio native, Sarah Taylor graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she worked at her first NPR station, WMUB. She began her professional career at WCKY-AM in Cincinnati and spent two decades in television news, the bulk of them at WKBN in Youngstown (as Sarah Eisler). For the past three years, Sarah has taught a variety of courses in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State, where she is also pursuing a Master’s degree. Sarah and her husband Scott, have two children. They live in Tallmadge.