JEFFERSON — For the first time since its county convention on March 7, the Ashe County Republican Party held an in-person meeting on June 16.
The meeting was held at the Ashe County Republican Party’s Headquarters located at 409 South Main Street in Jefferson.
Despite the rain, there was a good turnout as members of the Ashe GOP gathered under several tents to stay dry during the meeting.
Sheriff B. Phil Howell cooked hamburgers and hotdogs for the meeting, where there were also desserts and side items supplied by other members of the GOP.
Treasurer Terry Sexton presented the ending actual balance of $9,331.79. However, he was unable to provide the current party balance due to being unable to access the account that evening.
At the meeting, Chairman Jonathan Jordan announced both Vice Chairman Steve Mochen and Secretary Tom Breggar will be resigning from their positions, leaving two vacancies.
Delores Somers stepped forward to fill the position of Secretary. Somers lives in Helton and she and her family own The Tartan Woolly downtown.
Nobody else voiced their interest in the position so there was a motion to accept Somers with acclamation.
Breggar agreed to step up to fill the position of Vice Chairman of the Ashe County Republican Party.
He said Ashe has a great Republican party compared to where he previously lived in Franklin County which is predominantly Democrat.
There were no other members interested in the position so a motion of acclamation was made to accept Breggar as the new vice chairman.
Mochen spoke next, saying he had to resign after accepting a new job that he could not pass up, which he will be starting July 3. He is also trying to sell The Blue Ridge Theater and Event Center.
He shared some of the work the Trump Victory 2020 team has been doing, which involves 10 counties in North Carolina. Mochen was appointed as a field organizer for the team on June 1.
He had about 30 volunteers and the region was responsible for making 17,000 calls. The team made around 22,000 calls, completing 1600-1800 calls just over the weekend.
N.C. Fifth District Representative Virginia Foxx was unable to come to the meeting because she was in Washington D.C. and Sen. Deanna Ballard was in Raleigh. Both plan to attend an Ashe GOP in the near future.
During the meeting, attendees were able to hear from state candidates as well as local candidates.
First up was Ray Pickett, who is running against incumbent Rep. Ray Russell to represent District 93 in the North Carolina House of Representatives.
Pickett shared that the campaign recently started up again and they have been doing some Facebook Live videos. He said the business owners he spoke with during his time in Ashe County echoed the same sentiment, they want businesses to reopen.
“We’ve got to get our economy rolling again; it has taken a hard hit in the High Country,” Pickett said.
He handed out business cards for all members to access his contact information and assured them if they would like him to come speak at any group event they are hosting, he will try his best to be there.
“The right Ray can win this if we get the good people of this Republican party to get to the polls,” Pickett said. “We can take this seat back.”
Jerry Powers, a candidate for a seat on the Ashe County Board of Commissioners addressed the crowd.
He said it has been almost 30 years since he was elected the first time and he would appreciate any votes. Powers said the main concern is whether or not an election will be held this year or if it will be a mail-in vote.
“Some people get the mail in a whole lot more than others do and there’s people I’m sure that will help to see to that,” Powers said.
He served on the Ashe County Board of Elections for 23 years and he said he doesn’t anticipate mail-in ballots to affect local races as much as state and presidential races.
County Commissioner William Sands who is running for re-election has served on the BOC for 10 years.
“During these 10 years, we’ve had a total Republican board and we need to keep that,” Sands said.
He said Ashe County is healthier financially than the majority of counties in the state and encouraged everyone to continue to vote for Republicans in the local BOC race.
LaDonna Ryggs who serves as the Grassroots Coordinator for E.C. Sykes spoke on behalf of his campaign. Sykes is running for Secretary of State and is a successful businessman.
Ryggs previously served as Ted Cruz’s State Director in North Carolina and South Carolina while Sykes volunteered and was the Executive Director for Cruz’s Faith and Religious Liberty portion.
“I think the thing that really makes E.C. uniquely qualified is the fact that he is a businessman not a politician,” Ryggs said. “He has run tech companies, manufacturing companies, he now owns a family-owned business. He understands small business, he understands large business, but he understands our North Carolina values.”
More information about Sykes and his campaign can be found at ec4nc.com.
“I think this worked out really well,” Jordan said at the end of the meeting. At this time he thanked everyone who brought food, Mochen for supplying the tents and tables and Powers for bringing his motor home with a canopy for shelter.