(SHELBY, N.C.)--Cleveland County Democrats gathered in annual convention Saturday to cheer on their candidates, adopt resolutions, elect a new chair, and rally for what’s expected to be a hard-fought November general election.
“Meet the candidates” was a main theme of the convention, held at the County Office Building auditorium. The program was led off by those on the Democratic ballot in the May 6 primary for the party’s nomination for district attorney and county coroner. Following them were unopposed Dem candidates who’ll be on the November ballot, focusing on the platforms they’ll take forward. Each received applause and “amens” to calls for high Dem turnout to win in this non-presidential election year.
During the business agenda, Kings Mountain business owner Robin Smith (left) was elected CCDP chair to serve the remaining year of Chair Nick Carpenter’s unexpired term. Carpenter, who’s now a candidate for the N. C. House District 111 seat, thanked Dems for the opportunity to serve and their support, encouraging them to continue working hard toward victory in November. CCDP First Vice Chair Caroline Dedmon extended the party’s appreciation to Carpenter for his leadership.
New Chair Smith has been serving as county party treasurer and a member of the officer team leading its Executive Committee. She is also one of CCDP’s representatives on the N. C. Democratic Party’s State Executive Committee. Active locally in support of the 2008 and 2012 general election campaigns, she was elected a state delegate to the 2012 National Democratic Convention in Charlotte. Founder and president of It Takes A Village Child Development Center in Kings Mountain, Smith earned a master’s degree in management at Pepperdine University and served 15 years’ active duty in the U. S. Army in the United States and abroad, leaving active duty as a field-grade officer at the rank of major. She’s now a member of the U. S. Army Retired Reserves.
The convention unanimously adopted resolutions on two issues. One is in support of public education in Cleveland County, asking legislators representing the county to support only legislation positively affecting public education. The other resolution supports the proposed Catawba Nation Economic Project in Kings Mountain, calling upon local governing bodies and organizations to advocate for it, asking that its federal application be approved, and asking the state of North Carolina to support the Catawba Nation Resort in the same way it supports the resort operated by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation in western N. C.
Two other resolutions were adopted unanimously in appreciation of the leadership and service of two longtime county Democrats—the late James W. Gold, a party leader and chair of the Shelby 7 Democratic precinct organization, and the late Lester (Les) Roark, former Shelby city councilman and mayor.
Dwight Tessneer was called forward to hear a resolution, unanimously adopted, in appreciation of his longtime service as county coroner and to the party. He will conclude his current term in December, not running for re-election. Also recognized with certificates were Democratic precinct organizations meeting or exceeding their sustaining fund goals. Pat Poston, party secretary, was presented the Chairman’s Award by Carpenter.
Among the general election candidate speakers and offices sought were Tate MacQueen of Asheville, 10th District U. S. Congress; Emily B. Church of Valdese, N. C. state senate, District 46; and the following from Cleveland County: Mitzi M. Johnson, clerk of court; Alan B. Norman, sheriff; and Eddie Holbrook and Willie McIntosh, county commission. Fred Harrill spoke on behalf of Sen. Kay Hagan. Democratic primary candidates are John Bridges and Colin McWhirter for district attorney and, for coroner, Bruce Arton, Rick Garver, Tott Griffin, Randy Walker, and Tommy Carroll.
Non-partisan judicial offices also are up for election this year, convention-goers were reminded. Several encouraged strong primary support for Justice Robin Hudson, running for re-election to the N. C. Supreme Court. In the 27B district of which Cleveland County is a part, District Judge Ali Paksoy, Jr.of Shelby is unopposed for the general election.