Assembly Member Pam Hunter, who represents the 128th Assembly District, stands to introduce a group of women veterans from across the state in the assembly chamber. (undated photo from New York State Assembly)

Onondaga County Democrats are preparing for a leadership shakeup within the party.

Democratic committee members have started to pitch themselves as replacements for Chair Pam Hunter, who is expected to step down, according to three committee members.

Hunter has not publicly commented on her plans.

Dewitt Democratic Committee Chair Max Ruckdeschel wrote to fellow Democrats in an email obtained by Central Current to say he planned to run for the position.

“Assemblymember and current county chair Pam Hunter has decided not to continue as OCDC chair and she recently asked me to run to succeed her in that position,” Ruckdeschel wrote.

Hunter, who represents the 128th district in the New York State Assembly, has been chair of the party since 2018. Hunter took over for Mark English, who stepped down after six years as the party’s chair. She did not return calls and a text requesting comment.

The party faced something of a crisis around the time Hunter took over: Some members had abandoned Syracuse mayoral candidate Juanita Perez Williams in the 2017 election in favor of Ben Walsh, an independent.

Over the last week, committee members have been holding meetings to evaluate potential candidates, sources invited to the meetings told Central Current.

Candidates have until Sept. 14 to inform the party of their plans to run.

Ruckdeschel is the only candidate who has sent a party-wide letter informing committee members of his intent to run.

He confirmed in an interview that he is running. Ruckdeschel declined to comment on his conversations with Hunter.

Two other candidates, Ronnie White and Donna Moore, have signaled an interest in running.

Ronnie White is a former Syracuse Common Councilor. When contacted by Central Current, he declined to comment because it is an “intra-party matter,” he said.

Donna Moore is currently the director of workforce development at the Northeast Community Center.

White and Moore have had informal meetings with members about their candidacies in the last three days, according to two people who received notices about the meetings.

Party members will have about two weeks, from about Sept. 23 to Oct. 5, to vote by mail for the next chair, according to a flyer sent out by the party.

The committee will announce the winner at its Oct. 6 meeting. Auditors from the Bonadio Group will count the ballots.

Correction: This story initially stated that Donna Moore did not immediately return a call and text from a reporter. The reporter initially dialed the wrong number for Donna Moore.

Chris Libonati

Chris Libonati covers government, accountability and equity. Have a tip? Contact Chris at 585-290-0718 or libonati@centralcurrent.org.