Bonnie Howe, a Rootstown woman with decades of service in elected office, was named Portage County Democrat of the Year last week.

Craig Stephens, chairman of the Democratic Central Committee, made the announcement at the annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner, which took place at the Ravenna Elks Club. The event is hosted by the Federated Democratic Women of Portage County, which recently honored Howe as an "Honored Life Member."

Howe serves as Portage County recorder, a position she has held since 2005. She is not seeking re-election, and her term expires in January.

Her daughter, Renee Howe-Aboul, is running to succeed her, as is Lori Calcei, a Republican from Suffield.

Stephens described her record of service to Portage County Democrats and the community as "immense."

Howe stepped down as Rootstown trustee in 2011 after 24 consecutive years in the position, Stephens said. When she was first elected in the early 1990s, she was the first woman in Portage County to be elected as a township trustee.

She said it was one of the few times in her life that she was "speechless," and said she would continue to serve the community in retirement.

"I'll still be a Democrat, and I'll still be here to serve the candidates who need help," she said. "I'm here."

Joe Schiavoni, minority leader of the Ohio Senate, was the guest speaker.

Schiavoni, a Boardman resident, serves in the 32nd District. He talked about the battles he is fighting in Columbus, and about the importance of the current presidential election.

"We have to make sure Hillary Clinton wins this state," he said. "She needs us."

Stephens and state Rep. Kathleen Clyde of Kent also encouraged Democrats to support Clinton in the race, urging them to take signs for Clinton and other candidates, and to find other ways to volunteer.

"We all need to dig deep in this last month," Clyde said.


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