Published: Friday, November 10, 2006
Retired pastor trying to form political party
The pastor has been politically active against gambling initiatives.
YOUNGSTOWN The Rev. Jay Alford, a local political activist, is working to create an independent political party that he envisions would be the voice of the minority and faith-based communities.
The Rev. Mr. Alford of Youngstown, a retired pastor at Austintown's Highway Tabernacle Church, said he wants the party to initially nominate and endorse candidates on the local level.
"I haven't give it a name, but it would be the third force in the political arena," he said. "This is something that's been emerging for some time. You've got swing voters who decide the elections, and we would hopefully represent those people."
Mr. Alford wants to organize a committee for the new party that would recruit candidates for offices with the hope that it will grow into a legitimate statewide political party.
"The Democrats have taken the minority community for granted for years, and Republicans have ignored them," he said. "Republicans have taken the faith community for granted. This party won't do that."
Mr. Alford has been an active political participant, including being one of the key opponents of the failed 1996 statewide initiative to legalize riverboat gambling. He also was heavily involved in defeating Issue 3 on Tuesday's ballot. The issue would have legalized slot machines at the state's seven horse-racing tracks and two downtown Cleveland locations.
Mr. Alford was a strong supporter of Republican J. Kenneth Blackwell during his recent unsuccessful campaign for Ohio governor. The pastor was among the eight people invited by Blackwell to sit in the audience at the WFMJ-TV studio during the first gubernatorial debate in Youngstown on Sept. 5.
He also organized a group of pastors, many of them from black Youngstown churches, who publicly endorsed Jay Williams during his successful Youngstown mayoral campaign last year.
Mr. Alford, who now lives in Youngstown, offers a prayer before each Youngstown City Council meeting.