More than 144 Chatham County Democrats gathered at Horton Middle School in Pittsboro on April 8th.
Although she had been under the weather all week, Chatham native and the party’s second vice-chair, Pam Cash-Roper, found the strength on Saturday morning to attend the proceedings. "I thought the convention was a powerful statement for democracy in action" Cash said "it made me feel proud to be from Chatham County and a part of the Democratic Party."
Registration began at 9 am and the meeting kicked off at 10 am when the Chatham County Democratic Party chair, Jan Nichols, gaveled the meeting to order.
The Chatham County Sheriff’s department color guard opened the proceedings with one of their members,Beverly McClean Goldston, providing a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
Once party secretary Erika Lindemann determined that a quorum of delegates was present, the agenda for the day was adopted and the draft minutes for the 2016 convention were approved.
State Senator Valerie Foushee was the first speaker, and she updated the convention on the challenges facing Democrats in the State Legislature. She praised newly-elected Governor Roy Cooper.
Dr. James Crawford, the Chairman of the County Commissioners, then provided an insightful and compelling introduction of the keynote speaker, Professor Gene Nichol.
Nichol is the Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law at UNC-Chapel Hill and has been a consistent and resonant voice against poverty, wage disparity, inequality, and advocate for transparency and expanded voting rights.
Nichol cited the success and progressive vision of the assembled Democrats in Chatham County and encouraged the group to export our energy and organization to other counties around North Carolina in order to elect more Democrats to office.
Nichol focused his speech in particular on the damaging policies and laws enacted during the GOP-led General Assembly and former Governor Pat McCrory.
Following Nichol, the Rev. Dr. Anthony Davis, former pastor of Mitchell Chapel Church, and 1st vice chair of the county party, addressed the convention. He gave an emotional farewell speech as he informed the group that he has moved to Raleigh to become the presiding elder of the Raleigh District of the North Carolina A.M.E. Zion Church.
The final remarks came from current NC District 54 Representative Robert Reives. Reives thanked the Chatham County Democratic Party for its continual and vital support of Democrats in the State legislature.
Rep. Reives is convinced that elections in 2018 and 2020 will improve the Democratic presence and ability to govern in the legislature.
During the convention, the Chatham County Democratic Party elected its officer team for the next two years as well as its representatives to the State Executive Committee. After another strong performance last fall, Jan Nichols was re-elected as the chair of the party and will be joined by Harvey Himberg as first vice-chair, Pam Cash-Roper as second vice-chair, Ciera Dixon as third vice chair, Erika Lindemann as party secretary and Shannon Ramaswami as Treasurer, with Julie Stano serving as Assistant Treasurer.
County delegates to the convention also elected their delegates to the state executive committee. Virginia Penley, Sheila Thompson, James Crawford, Lou Forrisi, Jerry Markatos, will join county chair Jan Nichols and former state chairman, Randy Voller on the executive committee.
The convention finished its work by debating and passing resolutions that were either local in nature or intended to be sent on to the Sixth Congressional District Convention in May.
Two local resolutions passed that will be sent on to the Chatham County Commissioners. The first resolution encouraged the expansion of the County Board of Commissioners from five to seven members, while the other resolution advocated for the county to create a “municipal” fund for Goldston, Pittsboro and Siler City.
After the work of the day was done, the chair entertained a motion to adjourn and the business of the 2017 County Convention was completed before 1 pm.