The Ashe County Democratic Party held their annual convention Saturday at the Ashe County Courthouse without speeches or fanfare.
Party Chair Melba Jones said that no speakers were scheduled since the convention came on the heels of an April 6 Democratic Party dinner honoring the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt, where Seth Chapman’s speech on FDR’s political legacy received a standing ovation.
Instead, a letter to Ashe delegates from North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller was read by Mary Caryl Elmore.
“Over the past 100 years, Democrats have steadily steered N.C. as a beacon of prosperity and progress of the New South,” the letter read.
“Today, much of our legacy is under siege by Governor McCrory and the GOP majorities in the General Assembly…We’re already seeing vast overreach by this radical, reactionary, GOP-led legislature and they are turning voters off in droves.”
Voller’s letter urged Democrats to capitalize on voter dissatisfaction and to “organize early, get out our message and rebuild this party from the grassroots up.”
Voller outlined a strategy for upcoming elections to raise small-dollar donations at the county and state level, and encouraged party membership to actively participate in social media, making sure communities “have a Website to call their Democratic Party home.”
He also called for recruiting of “young, robust candidates” to build a “deep bench of talented, committed Democrats.
Lynda McDaniel, the Ashe Democrats’ outgoing secretary, read a letter from Elisabeth Motsinger, who ran unsuccessfully for N.C.’s fifth district congressional seat in 2012.
“I know you join me in the unwillingness to stand by while we watch the dismantling of real opportunity for all, where the vote for every citizen is threatened, where the world we love is despoiled by those who only seek profit when our air, and water, and climate are at stake,” the letter read.
Motsinger wrote of the need to “find good candidates and work like Hell to get them elected next year.”
Recognizing Ashe Democratic incumbents Election Board Chair Chris Arvidson, Register of Deeds Deatte Roten, West Jefferson Mayor Dale Baldwin and Sheriff James Williams, Jones emphasized the importance of working to get them reelected.
A slate of party officers was unanimously approved: Chair Melba Jones; 1st Vice Chair Polly Jones; 2nd Vice Chair Jim Payne; 3rd Vice Chair Nathan Ham; Treasurer Roy Elmore; Assistant Treasurer Sandra Hamm; Secretary John Sears; State Executive Committee Member Becky Mann.
The Democrats signed up delegates from the Ashe townships represented. There were enough delegates for four precincts from Ashe to attend the N.C. 5th District Democratic Convention in May.