Rudolph Clarke Attorney Michael Barbiero Unanimously Chosen as Treasurer of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee
NORRISTOWN — Marcel L. Groen, elected in September as Pennsylvania Democratic Chairman, stepped down from his position as leader of the Montgomery County Democratic Committee on Thursday evening, saying it was time for him to turn over the reins of the local party and to give his full attention to crucial statewide races in 2016.
The party’s Executive Committee, meeting in Plymouth Meeting, voted unanimously to select Joseph Foster, who had been First Vice Chairman, as the new Chairman. Foster hailed Groen for his 21 years of leadership and pledged to continue the unity and inclusiveness that enabled Democrats to achieve a historic first on November 3 by winning every county government office.
“The Montgomery County Democratic Party is large and vibrant and growing,” said Foster, who is a professor of American history at Temple University and serves on the county’s Board of Assessment. I have learned over time that the most important thing we do is stay in the same boat rowing in the same direction,” Foster told the Executive Committee. “Unity is our success. As long as we stay together, we will be successful.”
Jason Salus, re-elected as Montgomery County Treasurer on November 3, was unanimously selected as the party’s first vice chairman. Michael Barbiero, an attorney and Democratic Area Leader for Abington and Rockledge was unanimously chosen to fill the position of party Treasurer that was held by Salus.
(l-r) MCDC Officers: Olivia Brady, Jason Salus, Chairman Joe Foster, Jeanne Sorg, Veronica Hill-Milbourne, and Michael Barbiero.
The party’s ongoing leadership includes Jeanne Sorg, the newly elected county Recorder of Deeds, as Second Vice Chair; Veronica Hill-Milbourne as Corresponding Secretary, and Olivia Brady as Recording Secretary.
Groen, an attorney who was first chosen as party Chairman in 1994, said he was leaving with mixed emotions.
“This is really bittersweet for me,” Groen told the Executive Committee, which filled a large meeting room at the AFSCME offices on Walton Road. “You and this party have been an important part of my life.”
Two decades ago, Groen noted, Democrats were a minority in Montgomery County. The party trailed badly in voter registration, had only one Representative in the state Legislature, and held no competitive county offices. Now, the party holds a big lead in registration, has a large and growing delegation in Harrisburg, and dominates at the county level. The county has also grown into a major power base for the statewide Democratic Party, delivering large margins on November 3 for all of the statewide Democratic court nominees.
Groen praised the work of Democratic workers and volunteers at all levels of the county party, and said it was their willingness to sacrifice for the common good that made success possible. He also praised the work of the Montgomery County Democratic Party staff, led by Executive Director Dianna DiIllio and Political Director Joe Graeff.
Groen said that, under party bylaws, Foster will serve out the remainder of his four-year term as Chairman until 2018.
Foster earned his Ph.D. from Temple in 1989 and began full-time teaching in 2009. For two decades, he worked on a research and publication project sponsored by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the National Endowment for the Humanities that focused on the state’s early history.
He and his wife, Debby, are parents of four grown children. They live in Bala Cynwyd.