Sorell and Yamashita 5/26

Chairman Ralph Sorell and Secretary Nancy Yamashita lead the monthly Democratic Party Meeting on May 26.

WEST JEFFERSON — The Ashe County Democratic Party held its monthly meeting on May 26 in the picnic shelter at West Jefferson Park, the first in-person meeting since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting began with Chairman Ralph Sorell discussing the local minutes from the previous meeting, the Ashe County Democratic Party Convention. The minutes were passed among party members and were later voted to approve.

Sorell and Secretary Nancy Yamashita then discussed the treasury report. The party began in February with around $900 and have since received a handful of contributions from members and outside supporters and companies. Their ending balance was $1,071.31. Ben Massey moved to approve and the party then followed suit.

The group then moved to discussion on updates and business.

“DOT has agreed to our request to change the ‘Adopt a Highway’ section to West Deep Ford Road in Lansing from Highway 194 to the river,” said Sorell in regards to the paperwork previously submitted.

The party also assisted with the Ashe Food Pantry on May 21 which distributed food to approximately 450 families. Participating members included Sorell and wife Beth, Nancy Yamashita, Mert and Elsie Hall and Mike Yakal.

On May 22, the 5th District convention was held virtually where Sorell, Yamashita and third chairperson Steve Schwinn attended.

The meeting then shifted to discussion on the food pantry, which is headed by Kelley Breiding.

Breiding and volunteer students got a solid cabinet with adjustable shelves, perfect for food storage.

“We had to wheel it out of a building and maneuver it onto the truck,” said Breiding. “It’s a perfect cabinet with the doors and we hope things will be all well and good. I’ve also found a good and shady area near the Salvation Army in the Jefferson strip mall. I’ve contacted the shops to see about using the space so we’ve got our foot in the door.”

The party then discussed the mechanics of the cabinet and where to store it. Sorell and others expressed interest in helping with the project and hold high hopes for future planning. They also hope for donations to the pantry.

Sorell then opened the floor for discussion on the upcoming FDR dinner. The party is hoping to have a small award giving for Delmas Parker and to hold the dinner outdoors. Sorell is planning to get in touch with Ray Russell to further plan the event with guest speakers and possible dates in either July or August.

Elsie Hall has looked into the possibilities of catering including Kalman’s Bon Appetit food truck and Kristin’s Hook’d on Smoke. The options can vary depending on date, time, and the style of the event. The party is hoping to fully set it up by mid June.

“This is all in flux, but first is getting a speaker, finding out when they’re available and then going from there.” said Sorell.

On June 11-13, the State Party is having a training weekend for members of each county through Zoom who wish to learn more about leadership within their respective party. The three day event is open for anyone within the party who wishes to attend, which Sorell says would be beneficial for not only members but he himself. Ben Massey also hopes to hold a vote builder training for the party.

The party also plans to provide transportation for citizens wishing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine when they cannot manage it themselves. Massey has contacted ACTA but has not heard back. He then said the executive committee were willing to further look into the possibilities of the service.

A cash mob will soon take place later this summer where the party will pick a local business and/or restaurant to shop at for exposure of the party and their future endeavors.

“We’ve spoken of the possibility of businesses in town, but I haven’t been in town since lockdown. We’re very open to suggestions for any small business or restaurant that would be interested,” said Yamashita.

The party agreed to reconvene next month to further discuss the Cash Mob and future events. For more information on the party, visit

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