Paul M. Ladas, former prosecutor and local attorney, receives Muskegon County Democratic Gary Conrad Award

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By Diana L. Coleman

Legal News
 
The Muskegon County Dem-ocratic Party honored local attorney and former Muskegon County Prosecutor Paul M. Ladas with the Gary Conrad Award. The award was presented at the party’s Spring Gala on May 5. Also presented that evening was the Rillastine Wilkins Award which was given to Patsy Petty.
 
Ladas was introduced by Jenny Naffie who gave an incredibly powerful introduction of him. She talked about the handling of her rape case in 1971 when Ladas was Muske-gon County Prosecutor. 

Ladas has been an active member of the Democratic Party for many decades and deeply involved in the community.  The party wrote that, “Muskegon County is lucky to have a public servant as committed as Paul Ladas and the Democratic Party is lucky to have someone who represented us so honorably for so many years.”

Ladas is a Muskegon native and upon graduation from Mus-kegon High School (a friend of star Muskegon High football player Earl Morrall), went on to the University of Michigan for his undergraduate and law degrees.  He returned to Muske-gon and opened his law practice where he has practiced for 56 years and is still going strong.  

Ladas served as a Muskegon County prosecuting attorney from 1965-1972 and he also served as legal counsel for Fruitland Township for 15 years. In 1970, 1990 and 2000, he was the lead counselor for reapportionment. He was instrumental in preserving fair representation for the county residents on the Muskegon County Commission and today there are 9 commissions versus five due in large part to his efforts.

Ladas grew up in a Democratic family and has continued the tradition by becoming a staunch Democrat himself.  Paul served as a Precinct Dele-gate for many years and at least six times presided as the convention chair for county conventions. In 1984, he was a delegate to the 1984 National Democratic Convention.

Ladas was extremely pleased to receive the Gary Conrad Award and shared his acceptance speech with Muskegon County Legal News:
“I would like to thank the Muskegon County Democratic Party for awarding this honor to me. I am truly humbled. It’s especially touching to me since this award is named after Gary Conrad, who was the Muskegon County Democratic Party Chair-man for nearly 25 years and was a tireless, dedicated, effective, and very successful Chairman. He gave good advice to all candidates, recruiting candidates, and most important of all, winning many elections, many of which were thought unattainable. Gary was a close friend of mine. We went through high school together and worked on many political activities, conventions, campaigns, and at least four lawsuits to the Michigan Court of Appeals to achieve fair and lawful apportionment for Muskegon County Commission districts. I remember Patsy Petty being involved in many of those campaigns and ventures.”

Paul proceeded to introduce his family. “First and most important my beloved wife, Patricia, of over 50 years, who deserves equal credit for this award, having to endure the trials and tribulations of campaigns, controversies, and the anxieties that accompanied the many elections we were in-volved in. I’m sure you are all acquainted with my daughter, District Judge Maria Ladas Hoopes, whose marriage indicates our devotion to the Democratic Party, as she married Kenneth Hoopes, who is related to one of the originators of the Democratic Party of America, by being the sixth generation grandchild of our third President and founding Democrat, Thomas Jefferson. With them are their two children, Katie Hoopes, who we are proud to say just graduated from the University of Michigan, and their other daughter, Mary Grace Hoopes, who is going into her senior year at North Muskegon High School. My other daughter, Georgiana, lives in St. Louis with her two daughters and lawyer husband and is also a Democrat. I’d also like to introduce my partner, Jenny McNeill and her husband, Cavan.

As you know Jenny McNeill has caught the political bug that we all have here and is running for election as probate judge. I’d also like to recognize my sister, Ethel Peliotes, and her two daughters, Dina Weller and Mary Young with her husband Bill Young.  You’re probably not acquainted with my sister Ethel, but I’m sure you are familiar with her late husband, Chuck Peliotes, of G&L, who gained fame as the “Hot Dog King of Muskegon,” and whose photo still adorns the menus of the four G&L stores in our area.”
 
“Working for the Democratic Party has been a very exciting, rewarding, and proud occasion.  If one asks why, it is because of the great results that the Dem-ocratic party has achieved for this country since its inception, and especially in the 20th century and now also in the 21st century.”
“Sometimes we don’t appreciate that, and I have to mention that I think that failure to appreciate the successes and accomplishments is evident these past few years by the frequent failures to recognize and be proud of the accomplishments of our present President, Barack Obama, who has been repeatedly demonized unfairly by the opposition with canards, such as he is an active Muslim, that he wasn’t born in this country, and that somehow he is a total failure to our economy. Frankly, I think that our party and its leaders and many members of our party have failed to respond to such baseless accusations.

I, myself, am very proud of his accomplishments. He has brought extended medical care to some 20 million individuals who were uninsured, something that was suggested over 100 years ago by none other than Teddy Roosevelt. He has brought about a recovery from a dreadful, great recession that was created in the prior Repub-lican administration, reviving the auto industry, thus the stock market has now doubled in value, and he avoided disastrous wars that only further disrupt the world and needlessly kill our youth and squander our treasure. There is much more to do. Most of all, Barack and Michelle have conducted themselves with the utmost dignity and honor. I hope we all realize this so that if somebody asks you why you are proud to be a Democrat, the answer is because the Democratic party selects and gets elected great Presidents like Barack Obama.  Thank you again for this honor.”
 
Congratulations, Paul M. Ladas, for your continued service to the Rule of Law in the legal community and your active community service.