YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Not even Bob Hagan, one of the area’s oldest and most passionate Democrats, could remember the last time the Mahoning County Democratic Party held a public rally. It was why Wednesday evening’s town hall meeting was so significant. Mahoning Democrats have a new chairman and this was his first chance to rally his base.

“Our first town hall. This is a really great turnout,” said chairman Chris Anderson.

Wednesday evening, Anderson introduced himself to the 50 people at Youngstown’s Westside Bowl who attended the town hall meeting of the Mahoning County Democratic Party — its first public meeting in a long time.

“It was definitely a rough hand to be dealt, the COVID era. Now that live events are back again, live and in person, we’re going to take advantage of them,” Anderson said.

The meeting featured a head table of officeholders and candidates. Lou Lyras is running against 10-term incumbent Republican Congressman Bill Johnson for the U.S. House 6th District.

Lyras was the first to spark applause after referring to Tuesday’s referendum in Kansas where voters soundly defeated a constitutional amendment to deny women the right to an abortion.

State Representative Michele Lepore-Hagan (58th District) is planning a ballot initiative in Ohio to make abortion legal.

“Because women will die. Abortion will not go away, but safe and legal… medical professional health care will be gone,” Lepore-Hagan said.

Michele’s husband, Bob Hagan, is running against incumbent Republican Mike Rulli for the 33rd District state Senate seat.

Canfield’s Bruce Neff will face incumbent Republican Al Cutrona for state representative in the 58th District.

“It’s the whole Republican thing — cater and collect from big business, screw unions, trash the environment, rig elections, purge voters and vanquish women’s rights,” Neff said.

“Those are the kind of extremist issues that we all have to fight against if we’re serious about making sure that we’re Democrats. I couldn’t sit by and just let all these issues go by without at least jumping into it,” Bob Hagan said.

Lyras also mentioned the CHIPS Act, which recently passed Congress, providing money to companies like Intel to build a semiconductor plant in Ohio. Lyras wants to make sure the money is used to create what he called “good paying union jobs.”