04/10/11 — County Democrats hold their convention

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County Democrats hold their convention

By Dennis Hill
Published in News on April 10, 2011 1:50 AM

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Stephanie Kornegay

Wayne County Democrats vowed Saturday to rebound after last year's resounding defeats at the polls and chose a new chairman to lead the local party for the next two years.

Stephanie Kornegay was unanimously elected chairman of the party, taking the reins from Bronnie Quinn. Also elected were First Vice Chairman Jimmie E. Ford, Second Vice Chairman Kay Shadding, treasurer Sherry Quinn and Secretary Jennifer Heath.

"We have much to be excited about," Mrs. Kornegay told the gathering of more than 100 party members and precinct officials. "I know the last elections did not go our way locally or nationally but we do understand the message. And I think that when all the dust settles, as it is starting to, the public will learn that we are the party that really represents what they want and deserve."

Several attendees sported T-shirts proclaiming "Turn Wayne County Blue," and speakers touted the party's chances of doing that in 2012.

"We are the party that continues to work hard day in and day out for the people," said former state Sen. Don Davis, who lost in November to Republican Louis Pate. "Your presence here today sets the ground work for 2012."

State Rep. Larry Bell, who is Wayne lone remaining Democratic representative in Raleigh, said the new Republican majority has exhibited an "arrogance" since taking the reins of power on Jones Street and that there has been a rush by the GOP to push through bills without giving them the study they deserve. He cited the movement to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state, long sought by Republicans, as an example. The legislation barely got a half-hour of debate before it was put to a vote in the House, Bell said.

He said the Republicans' proposed budget would hurt the state in the long run if it is enacted as written.

"If we follow the budget they've got, we will lose a lot of jobs," he said.

Bell said many Republican initiatives would turn the state back 50-75 years if enacted, noting the push for voter identification cards, easing gun control laws and opposing health care reform, among others.

"They want to turn back the clock and we just can't allow that to be done," he said.

But Bell sounded a positive note, adding that many North Carolinians who voted Republican in November are learning that the promises made by Republican candidates are proving indigestible. Drastic cuts in education, job creation and other areas have many of the state's residents concerned, he said. It eventually will come back to bite the GOP, he said.

"Sometimes the Lord works in mysterious ways," Bell said.

He noted that the Democrats have the votes to sustain Perdue's vetoes of bills as long as the Democratic delegation stays together. But if the Democrats lose as few as four defectors, the party would lose that power, he said.

Bell said Wayne Democrats must start working now to have good legislative candidates ready for 2012. The party needs to have candidates even in districts that seem carved in favor of Republicans, he said.

During the convention, held at the Wayne County Courthouse, party members also elected delegates to the state executive committee and to the 1st and 3rd Congressional District conventions.

Ford gave a rousing speech, noting the positive energy generated by those in attendance.

"This looks good today, but we need to keep this up from now on," he admonished party members.

Davis reminded party members of the impending redistricting question and noted that people have a chance to give their opinion at public hearings being held around the state. One will be held May 6 at Wayne Community College.

"This is critical," Davis said.

Before turning over the gavel to Mrs. Kornegay, Quinn asked Ms. Heath to read letters from state Democratic Party Chairman David Parker and Gov. Beverly Perdue. Both urged the local party to get started working toward the next election. Mrs. Perdue exhorted party members to get out the vote. "Staying home on Election Day has its consequences," the governor said.