This year’s elections were the focus of the annual convention of the Cleveland County Democratic Party April 16 in Shelby. The event was held at the County Office Building auditorium, festively decked out in red, white, and blue.
Democrats from precincts across the county attended--to conduct party business including election of delegates to district and state Democratic conventions, adopt resolutions honoring past leaders, and take part in a program themed ”Democratic Journey to Victory" in 2016.
Introducing the convention theme, presiding CCDP Chair Joyce Sheaffer of Earl said that November’s general election is likely to draw the highest turnout and be the most hotly contested in decades. First Vice Chair Steve Padgett of Casar provided an overview of the Democrats’ fall candidate slate, from U. S. president, senator and congressman to N. C. governor and Council of State members to local office-holders. “We have a great team to make our journey with,” Sheaffer said.
Before introducing candidates, Chair Sheaffer recognized some incumbent Democratic leaders in mid-term to provide “state of the county” comments on activities: Sheriff Alan Norman, County Commissioner Eddie Holbrook, and county Board of Education Member Roger Harris.
Several of the Democratic candidates who’ll be on the November general election ballot brought greetings: Andy Millard of Tryon, U. S. Congress, Tenth District; Anne Fischer of Morganton, N. C. State Senate, District 46; Willie McIntosh and Mary Accor, Cleveland County Commission; and Debi Harrill, Cleveland County register of deeds.
Convention-goers were reminded that all ballots will include non-partisan judicial offices in addition to party nominees for other office. District 27B District Court Judges Ali B. Paksoy, Jr., and Meredith Shuford were recognized as incumbents. Judge Shuford will be on the November ballot for re-election.
Speaking of judicial elections, Vice Chair Padgett called attention to the special June 7 Republican and Democratic primary elections for congressional and judicial candidates. He encouraged Democrats to cast ballots May 26-June 4 at the early voting site at Bethel Baptist Church in Shelby. Given that Democrats’ nominee for U. S. Congress, Tenth District, Andy Millard, has no primary opposition, Padgett said, the Democratic primary ballot will show only four non-partisan candidates for associate justice on the N. C. Supreme Court. The top two vote-getters will advance to the November general election ballot. “It’s crucial to the direction of the court that we vote,” Padgett said.
Those attending voted unanimously on resolutions honoring the late brothers Jim Horn and Charlie Horn and retiring Cleveland County Register of Deeds Bonnie Reece. (See separate sidebar article here.)
In other business, the convention elected local delegates to the Tenth Congressional District Annual Convention May 21, to be held in Shelby at the County Schools Administration Building on West Marion Street, and to the North Carolina Democratic State Convention to be held June 11 in Raleigh. It’s at the district and state conventions that delegates will be elected to the Democratic National Convention July 25-28 in Philadelphia, where the party’s presidential nominee will be formally elected. Cleveland County’s Betsy Wells, chair of Tenth Congressional District Democrats, expects to be among candidates for national delegate.
As part of a “Tribute to Our Country” opening the convention, the color guard of the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Department presented the national and state flags, and the national anthem was sung by members of Tonal Spectrum, the Crest High School a capella choral group.
In conjunction with the convention, CCDP, assisted by Democratic Women of Cleveland County, held its annual fundraising auction of items contributed by precinct organizations, Dem office holders, DWCC members, and other volunteers. Willie McIntosh served as auctioneer for the lively event.
During roll call, eight Democratic precinct organizations were awarded certificates of appreciation for having met or exceeded their party sustaining fund goals: Broad River, Casar, Grover, Kings Mountain North, Kings Mountain South, Lawndale, Oak Grove, and Rippy.
Convention theme: This sign told the them of this year's Cleveland County Democratic Party convention on April 16, attended by precinct delegates, elected officials, candidates, and volunteers from across the county.
Greetings: Betsy Wells, right, signs in with the convention registration team. Volunteers included, left to right, Valerie Boyd, Mary Degree, and Dora Ley, former CCDP secretary. Wells is chair of Tenth Congressional District Democrats.
Candidates: Debi Harrill was among Democratic candidates on hand to greet convention-goers. She is our November 8 Dem candidate for Cleveland County Register of Deeds. Bonnie E. Reece, long-time incumbent register, is retiring April 30, and the CCDP Executive Committee has recommended that the Cleveland County Board of Commissioners appoint Ms. Harrill to fill the remaining months of Ms. Reece's unexpired term.
Campaign volunteers for Andy Millard, right, joined the candidate for Congress on his swing through county conventions.
Auction to raise funds for campaign:
Priscilla Dunlap, right, vice president of Democratic Women of Cleveland County, and CCDP Treasurer Doris Williams help with the lively auction held in conjunction with the convention. DWCC annually is a co-sponsor of the auction. Willie McIntosh was volunteer auctioneer.
Presiding: CCDP Chair Joyce Sheaffer, left, at the podium leading the convention. The several dozen attending included delegates elected at recent precinct organizational meetings, elected officials, candidates, volunteers, and others interested in Dem party activities.