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Countywide : O.C. Democratic Chief Seeks Return to Basics

January 11, 1995|DAVID REYES

The new leader of Orange County's Democratic Party says he is hopeful that Democrats can focus on a new, successful strategy in a county dominated by Republicans.

"We have been our own worst enemies," said Jim Toledano, who won election as chairman Monday night. "We have not carried out the weight of responsibility that more than 400,000 registered Democrats deserve."

Toledano, 50, an Irvine attorney, defeated incumbent Dorianne Garcia and Jeanne Costales, who was instead selected as vice chairwoman. The chairmanship is a two-year position.

Other officers elected include Marti Schrank as secretary and Dave Levy as treasurer, Toledano said.

The party expects to focus on stimulating political awareness of Orange County's second party, especially in the aftermath of the county's bankruptcy.

"After this bankruptcy disaster," Toledano said, "Republicans and all kinds of voters have come up to many of us and said, 'Maybe we'd better pay attention to the other party.' "

Toledano said they will focus on local issues and candidates, and will try to get back to "the grass-roots, meaning the people."

Toledano said he wanted to help change the party's image, especially after the local Republican landslide.

"There are 200 Democrats who are locally elected officials, including city councils, school boards and special districts," Toledano said. "These are people who have won election and yet when the (Democratic) label is not out there, people say, 'Hey, these people have something to contribute.' So, the people are not the problem, the label is the problem.

"People forget that, at the end of the 1970s, Democrats held most of the partisan offices," he said.

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