When John Martino first became chairman of the Brooke County Democratic Party in 1986, Republican Ronald Reagan was president and Democrat Jay Rockefeller was a freshman in the U.S. Senate.
On Tuesday night, Martino presided over his last meeting as chairman, and explained he was stepping down to focus his attention on his wife, Margaret "Marge" Martino, who has had health issues in recent months.
"Marge comes first, and the party second," Martino said. "It's because of Margaret I became the leader I am. She needs my help. I had to make the decision, and she needed me to be beside her. When we married I promised to stand beside her, and I will."
Photo by Joselyn King
Former Brooke County Democrat Chairman John Martino, left, congratulates Richard McCullough, who was elected the new chairman Tuesday night.
Margaret Martino previously served as the county party's secretary alongside her husband.
To fill the void, the Brooke County Democratic Executive Committee selected new party leaders Tuesday night during a meeting at the Brooke County Library. Richard McCullough was elected new chairman; Art Sullivan, secretary; Della Serevicz, treasurer; Michael Traubert, parliamentarian; and John Casinelli, vice chairman.
"I am honored to be elected chairman," McCullough said. "I will continue to follow up on the service provided by (Martino), and we will have a successful election this year."
State Sen. Robert "Rocky" Fitzsimmons, D-Ohio - also an attorney - was present and advised executive committee members they also should establish a regular meeting time, day and place for their meetings.
Members will meet at 5:30 p.m. on the second Monday of each month in the meeting room at the library in Follansbee.
The Martinos said their Follansbee home has played host to many politicians and political events over the years, and they can't help but think of Rockefeller each time they look at the light fixture in their living room.
While visiting, the 6-foot, 7-inch tall senator bumped his head on the chandelier and cut open his forehead after standing up to go greet Margaret Martino in the kitchen.
"There have been a lot of good memories," Margaret Martino said.