Tene Darby

Tene Darby, 48, of Lancaster, took over as chair of the Lancaster City Democratic Committee on Jan. 1.

Lancaster County’s largest local Democratic Party committee has a new chairperson, the first Black and Latina person to hold that post in the committee’s history.

Tene Darby recently assumed the top spot on the Lancaster City Democratic Committee, replacing Diane Topakian, who will remain chair of the county party.

“I’m very excited that she and the vice chair are both people of color, and I think it's about time,” said Topakian, who decided to step back from the city chair position in the fall to focus on the county party.

Lancaster city’s population is 38.3% Hispanic or Latino and 17.2% Black or African American, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Darby, 48, is a resident of the southeast section of the city. She first entered the political arena 11 years ago as an Election Day poll worker. She said Monday that her involvement in party activities grew after President Donald Trump’s 2016 victory because she wanted to understand and be involved in the process of getting candidates elected.

Topakian appointed Darby to fill a vacant committee seat in the city two years ago.

Darby said initially she didn’t want to run for chair, but was encouraged by other residents in the city’s southeast section. She said she wants to work toward the change she wants to see.

“I’m learning (the endorsement) process at this time,” she said. “I’m looking for candidates that are really going to speak for the people and make sure they have (the people’s) best interest at the forefront of their minds.”

The city committee is currently working through its endorsement process for city council seats, which are up for election this year. Darby said the committee is currently gathering questionnaires from candidates and performing background checks.

Seeking the committee’s endorsement for city council are incumbents Ismail Smith Wade El, Faith Craig and Janet Diaz, as well as newcomers Eliud Diaz, Lochard Calixte, David Cruz and Al Williams. Councilman Pete Soto is not seeking a third term.

Candidates had until midnight last night to submit their questionnaires. Those who may have missed the deadline will be ineligible for endorsement.

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