04/10/05 — Wayne Democrats choose Hispanic county chairman

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Wayne Democrats choose Hispanic county chairman

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on April 10, 2005 2:04 AM

With an eye toward diversity and younger faces, Wayne County Democrats on Saturday elected their first Hispanic party chairman.

Gaspar Gonzalez of Goldsboro took over the county's party reins from Larry Jones during the annual Wayne County convention in the Courthouse.

Gonzalez, who works as a diversity coordinator for Eastpointe in four counties, was believed to be the first Hispanic county chairman in North Carolina.

Completing the new slate were Tanyetta Strickland, first vice chair; Kevin Kornegay, second vice chair; Ellen Jordan, third vice chair; Earl Lewis Jr., secretary, and Sherry Quinn, treasurer.

When he took office, Gonzalez pointed to the new officers and said, "You see this diversity. This county will be united again. We will do our best for the Democratic Party."

Gonzalez, a retired Army special forces officer, has lived in Wayne County for 28 years.

Gonzalez joined Delores Kennedy, Dale Gainey, John Bell, Wilbur Shirley, Bronnie Quinn and Mary Rhoe on the state executive committee for two years.

State Party Chairman Jerry Meek of Fayetteville told the almost 100 delegates that former presidential candidate Howard Dean, the national party chairman, announced that North Carolina would get a $140,000 appropriation to hire three regional political directors to focus on the local parties.

County Commissioner J.D. Evans delivered the keynote address, asking the audience to renew their commitment to make Wayne County a better place to live. He noted that Wayne County commissioners adopted a strategic plan in 1997 to move the county ahead. About 90 percent of the plan has been completed, he said, except for improving education and finding a skilled workforce. The original steering committee will be reconvened in April to evaluate, update and refine the plan.

"We want to make Wayne County one of the leading counties in North Carolina," Evans said. "We can do that if we want to make that commitment."