HUDSON — Columbia County democrats elected a new leader Thursday.
The county Democratic committee unanimously elected Sam Hodge to be its new chairman.
“Our party is organized, engaged and ready to put in the hard work to win,” Hodge said in a statement. “We’re the party that is putting forward ideas to innovate and reimagine how local governments can make our energy costs lower, internet faster and housing more affordable. We’ve got the ideas, candidates and organization to win.”
The committee met Thursday at the Claverack Free Library for its biennial organizational meeting and was tasked with electing a new chairman to succeed Keith Kanaga, who stepped down.
Hodge, 35, a lifelong Democrat, has been politically engaged and active from an early age.
He founded his high school’s young Democrats group, started a gay rights organization at his college campus and moved up the ranks of the College Democrats of America, becoming the national political director during the 2008 campaign, according to a statement from the committee.
Outside of politics, Hodge served for nearly seven years as an assistant district attorney in Bronx County, where he prosecuted violent crimes including sexual assault and child abuse cases.
“I’m the product of public school teacher parents, so I learned quickly the power of public service and the importance of civic engagement,” Hodge said. “I’m humbled to have the trust and support of the Columbia County Democrats.”
Kanaga declined to seek another term, according to the announcement from the committee. Kanaga held the post since 2016.
“Keith brought the heat,” Hodge said. “He focused on finding great candidates and building our party and it worked.”
When Kanaga took the reins of the party in 2016, Republicans had the voter registration advantage, but five years later, Democrats have the advantage by more than 4,000 voters, according to the committee’s statement.
In 2016, Columbia County went for the Republican candidate for Congress by 1,500 votes, but in 2020, went for the Democratic candidate by more than 8,000.
When Kanaga started, Democrats held nine seats on the Columbia County Board of Supervisors, but today they hold 13.
“The meeting was as much of a celebration of the past, as it was excitement for the future,” said Brenda Gevertz, who was reelected to a second term to serve as the committee’s second vice chairwoman.