This is what should be the first of a series of chronicles of my foray in Democratic politics. I want to share these experiences, because I think it is important for folks to understand the difference that can be made by actually getting into the Party, and mixing it up.
DKos is about more and better Democrats. I hope that I can inspire some of our community to make the commitment to the party. It is has been instantly rewarding for me, as we'll see below the fold.
Part I: Noob
I've become increasingly interested in state politics over the last 5 years or so, in my adopted state of North Carolina. I live out in the Western Mountains, in beautiful and progressive Asheville. Some folks may be aware of the hardcore Conservatism now running rampant in Raleigh. Let's just say it's pretty bad, and the usual stuff: anti-LGBT rights, voting rights restrictions, privatization of public resources. You know, the ALEC playbook.
I started attending my precinct meetings in 2009, and took the mostly ceremonial position of Secretary. My precinct, Buncombe 15.1, is considered to be one of the more liberal and steadfast precincts in the county. I was a proud member of the leadership, even if it was a nominal position.
This year, our Chair, Lew, was promoted to overseeing the cluster. With the chair open, I figured it was time for me to step it up and start working harder for the party. I hope that some of you reading this will make the same choice.
Here's where the plot thickens. The meeting where I accepted the Chair was March 1st, 2014. Five days later, NC Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt passed away.
Martin was a great Democrat, fighting for the poor, and for education throughout his long career in the NC Assembly. Because the Senator was a Democrat from the 49th District, mostly Asheville, the Democratic Party has the right to appoint a replacement. Precinct Chairs and Vice-Chairs, party leadership, and elected Democrats will be voting on Thursday, April 4th, to choose Martin's successor. This totals to about 180 votes.
Since I'm now a Chair, I will have one of about 180 votes for who will be an NC Senator! It's a responsibility I'm not taking lightly.
At the moment, six Democrats have stepped up and are seeking nominations and seconds at the voting on Thursday. They are (in alphabetical order):
Veronika Gunter - campaign co-ordinator for many Asheville Democrats
Charlie Owen - local Entrepreneur, with strong family history in the area
Terry van Duyn - activist for the poor and disadvantaged
Aixa Wilson - former candidate for City Council, and decorated Veteran
Michelle Pace Wood - activist for education and agricultural issues
Keith Young - activist for education and minorities
(The summary above is not meant to be all inclusive. I apologize in advance if I've omitted some notable work from this brief listing.)
I've personally met with 4 of the 6 candidates, and spoken with another by telephone. I think it is important that I shake these people's hands, and try to get their measure. The good news is that it is proving to be a very difficult choice. These are 6 great people who work their tails off for others. These are 6 good Democrats.
Just a little bit more before I sign off for Part I.
Right now, Democrats are a super-minority in the NC Senate. The person appointed to this seat will be a freshman, with little leverage. However, Buncombe County is a Democratic stronghold, so the likelihood is that the appointee will neither be primaried nor lose in a general in the near future. This vote is possibly seating someone in the NC Senate for 20 or more years.
Exciting times for a new Precinct Chair!