The Ashe County Democratic Party held its 2021 County Convention at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 10, via Zoom. After calling the meeting to order, Party Chair Ralph Sorrell read the “Statement of Inclusion,” followed by a moment of silence and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Newly elected State Party Chair Dr. Bobbie Richardson delivered a message via video. She thanked local party workers and called on work from neighborhood grassroots to the precincts to the county level to move the Party forward. Her message was to “Organize, organize, organize!”

Next, Gov. Roy Cooper presented a video message where he spoke of the resilience of North Carolinians during the COVID crisis. He pointed out that North Carolina has been nationally recognized for “Equitable Vaccine Distribution” — we’ve worked to make sure that vaccines reach every corner of our State and every population.” He spoke of his budget proposal that includes investment in schools, pay increases for teachers, state employees and retirees, expanding access to Medicaid and internet access. Cooper encouraged Democrats to organize as neighbors working together to get our State moving in the right direction. He also encouraged folks to get vaccinated as soon as they could.

The nominating committee presented a slate of candidates for the executive committee: Ralph Sorrell, chair; Nancy Yamashita, secretary; Steve Panella, treasurer; Kelley Breiding, 1st vice chair, Ben Massey, 2nd vice chair, Steve Schwinn, 3rd vice chair; and Ben Massey for the 2nd Seat on the state executive committee. The candidates were approved unanimously.

Sorrell, re-electedchair, thanked the delegates for their support and paid tribute to outgoing 1st and 2nd vice chairs, Polly Jones and Roy Carter, noting their 50-plus years of service to Ashe County as educators and mentors in our schools, Churches, and many organizations and boards.

Sorrell acknowledged that 2020 was a “tough year for all of us, and definitely a mixed bag for Ashe Democrats, but we did help re-elect Roy Cooper for Governor and Josh Stein for attorney general.”

He then spoke directly to the comments of Republican State Treasurer, Dale Folwell, who said at the Republican Convention, that folks in Ashe “are facing the highest levels of job, food, health and education insecurity and uncertainty than they have faced in their lives.”

Sorrell said that this is true because of Republicans favoring the wealthy and corporations over working people. He followed up by pointing out that President Joe Biden’s COVID Relief Bill is going to help the people that need help. The Child Tax Credit will reduce child poverty by 30 percent. If we expand Medicaid in North Carolina, it will insure another 500,000 of our citizens without “paying another dime.” Sorrell also spoke of the upcoming infrastructure bill that will not just fund fixing roads and bridges, water pipes and sewer systems, but will also expand broadband to places such as Ashe County.

Sorrell ended by pointing out that, “Democrats are working for everyday people: working people, families, children, students, folks with disabilities. We just have to find a way to get our message out.”

Next, Delegates were elected unanimously to the 5th District Convention to be held May 22.

A video message from Stein was presented. He spoke of his work addressing the opioid crisis, mail and phone fraud and scammers. He also talked of protecting the right to vote, and cracking down on industrial polluters.

Monthly business was also conducted during the meeting with the treasurer reportine a balance of $911.76.

The party will conduct a litter sweep Saturday, April 17, at 10 a.m at East Buck Mtn. Road, starting at the intersection with US 221.

Tentative FDR Dinner plans are for an outdoor event this summer with a dynamic guest speaker.

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