“We have to let people know that we have confidence and faith in what the Democratic Party does on every level,” said Svea Strong, who was succeeded by Dobbins Heights Mayor Antonio Blue as county chair of the Richmond County Democratic Party at their annual convention Saturday morning.
“Only in America could the things that happened over the last year take place,” said Blue in his acceptance speech. He recalled a recent trip to Washington, D.C., and how refreshing it was to see people of all colors and nationalities working together on Capitol Hill.
Keynote speaker Kathy Gainey, Richmond County Clerk of Court, expressed similar celebratory sentiments.
“We did really well last year as Democrats,” said Gainey, who applauded various milestones, like America’s first African American President and North Carolina’s first female Governor.
“Can you imagine what Dr. Martin Luther King said when he saw Obama become President? He said ‘My son, you too had a dream; and it was fulfilled.’”
Indeed, there were some “firsts” in the audience - among them State Representative Melanie Wade Goodwin, who in 2008 was the first female legislator in North Carolina to be expecting a child in office.
According to Gainey, who was born into a die-hard Democrat family, being elected as Clerk of Court marked the fulfillment of her own dream. One she’s not ready to let go of any time soon.
“I feel like I have a lot more to offer the citizens of this county,” said Gainey. “I work for them; they are the ones that pay my salary.
“But my political career didn’t begin in 2006,” she said. “It began in 1970, when I signed up to become a Democrat. This coming year we’ll have smaller elections. But we have to keep all our folks signed up.”
Those who turned out to the Leath Memorial Library Saturday morning elected party officials and delegates to serve county, district and state party government roles.
Thirty-five delegates were chosen from organized precincts to represent Richmond County at the District Convention. Strong encouraged un-represented precincts to organize so that they could participate.
After Blue was chosen for 2009-2011 county chair, Jayne Layton received first vice chair; Perry Parks, second vice chair; Emma Lambeth, third vice chair; Jim Chandler, secretary and Keaia Blackwell, treasurer.
County officials will be responsible for coordinating all of the party’s grassroots organization efforts as the 2010 elections approach.
As county chair, Blue will also serve on the State Executive Committee with fellow elected members Robbyn Sumpter, Anna Thomas and Wenonia Wall.
“My dream would be for every registered Democrat in Richmond County to get out and vote,” said Blue, who talked about driving for hours to come home and vote during his time abroad in the military. “My home has always been Richmond County, and I will do all that I can to go above and beyond the call of duty as chair.
“Thank you for trusting me and electing me.”