By Thomas Sherrill, in the Watauga Democrat:
BOONE – The Watauga County Democratic Convention was held on Saturday [April 8], with over 100 people filling the Watauga County Courthouse to elect leaders and listen to speakers.
The convention concluded with nine resolutions being adopted and approved, ranging from favoring Watauga County intervention in the Maymead asphalt plant lawsuit to welcoming a diverse population in Watauga County to imploring President Trump to release his tax returns and calls for an investigation into the Trump administration’s ties to Russia.
The keynote address was made by Matt Wasson, director of Appalachian Voices, whose speech was titled “Rolling Back the Enlightenment: Inside the Conservative War on Science.”
Wasson told a story about Kentucky mining and its effects on the local streams and how toothless legislation led to the coal mining companies providing fake reports on the effect on the local waterways.
Wasson said that he used to be non-affiliated, but is now a Democrat, “as I’ve come to the conclusion that’s there’s only one right side on this debate.”
Political Director Pam Williamson spoke about the party’s success in the recent election.
“We tweaked some things, had some really great candidates, looked at things very strategically and got all the votes we needed to win plus more,” Williamson said.
“My sister was trying to tell me that it was Wake County who put in Roy Cooper; I’m sorry, it was Watauga County who put in Roy Cooper,” she said.
Williamson also noted flipping the County Commission and winning the county for Sue Counts and Hillary Clinton and “keeping the school board in progressive hands.”
Williamson said the time for negotiation and compromise with the Republicans was over.
“Here’s my idea of compromise. Either impeach Donald Trump or haul him off in handcuffs for conspiracy against the United States of America,” Williamson said.
Williamson also spoke of the plant sale, which she called their most important fundraiser and implored people to sponsor plants.
“The more people that participate, the lower the prices,” Williamson said.
Christine Behrend, director of operations and data, spoke about “exporting the Watauga model,” which would provide Democratic party training for surrounding “red counties,” which includes using data models, canvassing, field work and registering people. Behrend noted that several counties have expressed interest.
Chairwoman Diane Tilson spoke about the progressive movements Democrats have historically been involved in.
“We are Democrats. We have social security and public education because of Democrats; we have clean water and clear skies because of Democrats; we have National Parks and protected wildlife because of Democrats; we have safety nets for our children, our disabled and our elderly because of Democrats; Democrats have fought for racial equality, marriage equality, gender equality and diversity, and we will continue to fight for everyone to choose what bathroom they will use,” Tilson said.