Jan 182018

imageBy Jordan Green, Triad City Beat:

Congressional candidates DD Adams and Jenny Marshall pitched their ability to represent rural constituents during a 5th Congressional District candidate forum in Alexander County.

Two Democratic candidates from Forsyth County kicked off the political season on Tuesday night by making the case that they can represent the interests of the entire 5th Congressional District to a capacity crowd in a borrowed courtroom in rural Alexander County.

Jenny Marshall, a social studies teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Winston-Salem, and DD Adams, a three-term member of Winston-Salem City Council and retired quality engineer at Johnson Controls, both pledged to support their Democratic opponent in the general election if they don’t win the primary. The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx, a member of the powerful House Republican Conference who was first elected to the seat in 2004.

The district has traditionally leaned Republican, even before the GOP took control of the General Assembly and redrew the map to their advantage in 2011. But the General Assembly faces a court order to redraw the lines after the current plan was found to be an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander, so it’s possible the Democratic candidate will have a better shot than in the past.

Speaking before a capacity crowd of more than 100 people at the event sponsored by the Alexander County Democrats, the two candidates addressed big national issues like healthcare, entitlements and criminal justice, and also tackled local concerns. With a population of only 37,428, Alexander County is among the smallest in the state and doesn’t have a single interstate running through it. One of the written questions submitted to the candidates noted that neighboring Hickory hosts “major multinational companies” and the city of Lenoir landed a Google data center.

“What can you do for Alexander County?” the questioner asked.

“The first major question is: What does Alexander County want and how are we going to put that into place?” Marshall responded. “I’m a huge proponent of green-energy jobs: solar, wind, geothermal. That is the future. Dragging our fossil fuels out of the ground and fracking? No. We need green energy. So, would you like a solar plant making solar panels?”

Adams, whose father worked for RJ Reynolds Tobacco, touted Winston-Salem’s reinvention through urban reinvestment.

D D Adams

D D Adams

“You got good, old buildings downtown?” she asked. “Old furniture factories? Something we can go and work with?” She talked about a “team of people I’ve been working with,” including Piedmont Triad Partnership President & CEO Stan Kelly, car dealer Don Flow and Forsyth Tech President Gary M. Green, adding, “That goes back to me strategically having teams in every county. But we can make this happen.”

Alexander is one of 10 counties in the current 5th Congressional District, which stretches from Winston-Salem in the east to Boone in the west. The two Democratic candidates told voters they plan to be more accessible than Foxx.

“I will be sure that we have a mobile office, not just one that’s stuck in Clemmons and not just one that’s stuck in Boone,” Marshall said, “but one that actually travels to the communities so that you can have access to your representative.”

Adams said she agreed that the district representative needs to have constituent services offices in more than two locations, but added, “You also have to look at the various technologies that are accessible to everybody today. Everybody’s not going to do a meeting. Everybody — if you talk to politicians now, they will tell you most of the communication is via technology or telephone.”

Marshall shot back: “Technology is great, but when you don’t have access to wifi and/or broadband access in the rural communities, you’re gonna be hard-pressed to find people that can send an email.”

The two candidates tussled over the issue of raising the minimum wage, although they expressed similar sentiments about taking a gradual approach and taking care to avoid burdening small businesses.

Adams predicted that the city of Winston-Salem will be paying all of its employees $15 an hour within two years. She said government and other employers have to be careful about instituting a dramatic wage increase all at once, although she said she would support a federal minimum wage set to $10 per hour.

“Fifteen dollars is going to take a plan, again, so you don’t see compression,” Adams said. “Because the person that’s been on the job for 10 years making $15, a person comes in five years and makes $15. Y’all know how it go — it don’t work that way. Yes, I believe in a livable wage, and I believe we can get there in the next five, 10 years.”

Jenny Marshall

Jenny Marshall

Marshall took the opportunity to make a swipe at the city.

“If you value the employees of Winston-Salem, you need to raise their wage,” she said. Marshall also said she favors a federal subsidy for small businesses to allow them to pay higher wages.

While both candidates said they would preserve Social Security, Marshall said she would go a step further.

“It doesn’t go far enough for those people who are self-employed because Social Security insurance doesn’t cover them,” Marshall said. “They don’t get a check when they retire. It doesn’t cover the stay-at-home mom that stays home for 40 years. She doesn’t have a work history. That determines how your Social Security gets paid — how many years you work and what was your salary? I would like to change that. Frankly, stay-at-home moms, you work. Self-employed people, you work. And I think you deserve to have your benefits paid by the federal government.”

Despite the friction on Adams’ record on city worker pay, both candidates found plenty of room for agreement, including on the issue of the minimum wage.

Marshall said the first two bills she would introduce in Congress would be establishing universal healthcare and raising the minimum wage.

“Same,” Adams said. “Those are things that are doable.” She added that most Democrats are on the same page on the two issues.”

The two candidates both said they favor greater investments in education, but Marshall advocated a universal approach while Adams pitched a more targeted plan.

“I think we need to catch up with all the other industrialized countries and make sure that colleges and universities are available free of tuition for our students to attend,” Marshall said.

Adams added, “We’ve got to move back to expanding pre-K. Give that child the start they need, that opportunity to have a great education and a great life. We need to provide free technical college or college at a reduced rate at such a way that everybody can afford to go to college who wants to go.”

On criminal justice, both said they oppose private prisons. Marshall said Congress needs to take a hard look at the laws on the books that are driving explosive growth in incarceration. Adams said she’s already made up her mind on one federal offense.

“I believe in the decriminalization of marijuana,” Adams said. Like Colorado, she said the 5thCongressional District in North Carolina could use legal marijuana as a tool for economic development and job creation, as well as providing an alternative to opioids as a pain medication.

“I feel like I’ve been prepared and I’ve been moving towards this ascension for many years,” said Adams, who also cited her professional work in manufacturing, and experience advocating for Winston-Salem in Raleigh. “I’m a three-term city council member in Winston-Salem. I’ve had primaries and general elections against Republicans.”

Marshall, who has not held public office, used her experience as a teacher fashion a biography of service.

“I can walk into a Stokes County farmer appreciation dinner and feel just as at home as I do teaching in my urban classroom back at JFK High School in downtown Winston-Salem,” she said. “Everybody means the world to me, and I want the best for our communities.”

Jan 172018

imageBelow is an alphabetical list of 2018 Watauga County Democratic Party precinct meetings which begin on February 5 (Blue Ridge) and conclude on February 18 (Blowing Rock). Following the alphabetical list is a notation of which precincts are holding joint, combined meetings.

Precincts will be electing delegates to the County Convention on April 7, filling vacancies in their officer ranks, and considering resolutions for submission to the County Convention.

All Watauga County Democrats are urged to join the 2018 Blue Wave at the grassroots level. Get involved, stay involved, and take your involvement to the streets!


Alphabetical Precinct List

Bald Mountain

Tuesday, February 6, 7 p.m., Three Forks Baptist Association bldg., 513 Jefferson Rd. (Hwy 194), Boone. Contact Terry Cole:


Beaver Dam

Tuesday, February 13, 6 p.m., Bethel Elementary School Media Center. Contact Billy Kennedy:


Blowing Rock

Sunday, February 18, 4 p.m., Blowing Rock American Legion Hall, 333 Wallingford Rd., Blowing Rock. Contact Lonnie Webster:


Blue Ridge

Monday, February 5, 6 p.m., 1419 Deerfield Rd., Boone. Contact Chris Behrend:


Boone 1

Tuesday, February 6, 7 p.m., Boone Town Council Chambers, 1500 Blowing Rock Rd. Contact Jerry Hutchins:


Boone 2

Tuesday, February 6, 7 p.m., Boone Town Council Chambers, 1500 Blowing Rock Rd. Contact Lee Franklin:


Brushy Fork

Tuesday, February 6, 7 p.m., Boone Town Council Chambers, 1500 Blowing Rock Rd. Contact Deborah Kirkley:


Cove Creek

Tuesday, February 13, 6 p.m., Western Watauga Community Center, 1081 Old US Hwy 421, Sugar Grove. Contact Kristin Hyle:



Tuesday, February 6, 7 p.m., Three Forks Baptist Association bldg., 513 Jefferson Rd. (Hwy 194), Boone. Contact Maggie Sparks:


Laurel Creek

Tuesday, February 13, 6 p.m., Western Watauga Community Center, 1081 Old US Hwy 421, Sugar Grove. Contact


Meat Camp

Tuesday, February 6, 7 p.m., Three Forks Baptist Association bldg., 513 Jefferson Rd. (Hwy 194), Boone. Contact John Prickett:


New River 1

Tuesday, February 6, 7 p.m., Boone Town Council Chambers, 1500 Blowing Rock Rd. Contact Jamie Levine:


New River 2

Tuesday, February 6, 7 p.m., Three Forks Baptist Association bldg., 513 Jefferson Rd. (Hwy 194), Boone. Contact Lee Stroupe:


New River 3

Tuesday, February 6, 7 p.m., Three Forks Baptist Association bldg., 513 Jefferson Rd. (Hwy 194), Boone. Contact Charlotte Mizelle:


Stony Fork

Tuesday, February 6, 7 p.m., Three Forks Baptist Association bldg., 513 Jefferson Rd. (Hwy 194), Boone. Contact Shelton Wilder:



Tuesday, February 13, 6 p.m., Western Watauga Community Center, 1081 Old US Hwy 421, Sugar Grove. Contact Kinney Baughman:



Precincts Holding Joint/Combined Meetings


New River 2

New River 3

Meat Camp

Bald Mountain

Stony Fork


…will meet together Tuesday, February 6, 7 p.m., Three Forks Baptist Association bldg., 513 Jefferson Rd. (Hwy 194), Boone



Boone 1

Boone 2

Brushy Fork

New River 1

…will meet together Tuesday, February 6, 7 p.m., Boone Town Council Chambers, 1500 Blowing Rock Rd.



Cove Creek

Laurel Creek


…will meet together Tuesday, February 13, 6 p.m., Western Watauga Community Center, 1081 Old US Hwy 421, Sugar Grove

Dec 142017

“All speech is free, but some speech is more free than others.” This seems to be the motto of the current members of the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors and their General Assembly backers. Like the dictatorial pigs in Orwell’s Animal Farm — who declared “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” — the Board is putting a noble veneer on self-serving and disingenuous arguments.

imageLast summer, the legislature passed the “North Carolina Restore Campus Free Speech Act.” This Friday (Dec. 15), the Board will vote on a policy to implement the law on UNC’s seventeen campuses. Among its troubling provisions, the law requires university administrators to adopt an attitude of “institutional neutrality regarding political and social issues.” This principle, it says, is essential to “protecting freedom of thought and expression at universities.”

Yet at the Board’s upcoming meeting, it will take time from its busy work restoring “free speech” to listen to Professor Robert P. George of Princeton University (discussed in a December  8 story in Raleigh’s News & Observer). George is a well-known legal scholar, who also, it so happens, has fought gay marriage and abortion. A conservative Catholic, he even has a soft spot for the controversial Catholic organization Opus Dei. Before the Board, George will discuss “civil discourse.”

There’s an obvious double standard here: the Board expects (presumably liberal) university administrators to be politically “neutral,” even as it rolls out a red carpet for a conservative crusader. According to its contorted logic, bringing in George promotes “diversity of opinion” — an issue about which the all-Republican Board, appointed entirely by a gerrymandered legislature, obviously cares deeply.

The issue is not whether George has the right to speak to the Board. Clearly, he does. The question is, rather, what George’s career and positions reveals about the Board’s goals for the UNC system.

George is a partisan activist. The Board would have you believe that George is a lifelong advocate for civil discussion. In fact, he has actively promoted a hyper-partisan agenda. He once helped craft a letter suggesting that Catholics who support legal abortion should be denied communion. He also served as the chairman of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), which opposes same-sex marriage and produced the notorious “Gathering Storm” ad.

When Board member Tom Fetzer calls George’s work “an incredibly healthy and positive thing for any college campus,” we should take it with a grain of salt: the Board likes George’s politics, not his politeness. The Board’s penchant for double-speak should make us wary of its “free speech” policy and the agenda behind it.

This is particularly evident in the fact that George favors civil disobedience as much as he favors civil discourse. In 2009, George helped draft the “Manhattan Declaration,” which called for Christians to disobey laws contrary to their faith. It states: “we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, …nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships…” For the Board, this is what a champion of “civil discourse” looks like.

The Board is enamored of George because, like many conservatives, it sees higher education as a hostile power. Intellectuals like George have shown that relentless campaigning can give conservatives a foothold in enemy (i.e., liberal) territory. But even as they champion freedom and diversity of opinion, they subscribe to the troubling notion that every social institution must be ideologically balanced. The idea of critical inquiry has undoubtedly attracted liberals to the academic profession. But academe is not the only institution with pronounced political sympathies. The military, for instance, overwhelmingly votes Republican. Should liberals insist on ideological balance among those to whom we entrust our protection? Yet this is precisely what the Board wants for UNC.

The great irony is that the very people who want to make universities “diverse” also embrace the conservative belief that the state always stumbles when it tells society what to do. The Board and the legislature are, in this respect, socialists—precisely in the sense that the Right uses the term. In attempting to inject the “correct” balance of opinion into university life, they are engaging in the kind of social engineering conservatives have always denounced. Reagan famously said that “government is the problem.” On the issue of campus free speech, the Board believes that government is the solution. When it comes to expressing your beliefs, the Board knows what’s best for you.

Dr. Michael C. Behrent is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Appalachian State University and Dr. Jay M. Smith is a Professor in the Department of History at UNC-Chapel Hill. Both are also members of the (American Association of University Professors AAUP).

Oct 012017

For a complete list of honorees from past years, go to the bottom of this post.

The 2017 honorees were named at the Fall Rally on Saturday, September 30:


James Patrick Morgan

Many of you will remember that Pat Morgan spent 11 years on the Watauga County School Board. You may not know about his other volunteer activities for school kids, both before his multiple elections to the school board and after his retirement. He feels a dedication to the nurturing of school children that has marked his entire life.

imagePat grew up in Raleigh, graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in the Class of 1962. He spent four years in the US Navy, attended the Ole Miss School of Law, and then spent three years in Hazard, Kentucky, working with the Christian Service Ministry and the old Office of Economic Opportunity. In 1973, he and Mary Sue moved to Boone. Pat went to work with Dr. Jim Jackson in Community and Regional Services at ASU before moving full-time into the political science department where he taught until his retirement in 2003.

In the spring of 1974, Pat organized Watauga County’s first Spring Festival — the justifiably famous Spring Festival — held on the ASU campus in Varsity and Broome-Kirk gyms. That festival brought together community and church groups, university clubs, and local non-profits for two fun days of grilled meats, sugared sweets, displays, demonstrations, and a running stage show of local young talent. The Spring Festival ran for over a decade and was an inspired vehicle for bringing together the entire community. Many of us miss it and fear we’ll never see its like again!

Back in 1976 — over 40 years ago — Pat began going to Mabel Elementary School each week to read to the kindergarten class. Soon he included time for the first and second grades at Mabel, and after about ten years, he added reading time for K through 2nd graders at Cove Creek Elementary and then also at Bethel Elementary. That’s not just a lot of reading. That’s a lot of driving! This fall Pat is beginning his 41st year as a volunteer reader. According to Mary Sue, Thursdays and Fridays are his favorite days of the week.

In 2004, Pat and Mary Sue went to the Watauga County Public Library’s Friends of the Library Board with a new idea. Because so much of the county is rural, there were many families who were unable to bring their children to the library during the summer months. Pat wondered aloud, what if volunteers brought books to the children? The idea took off and has been successful now for 14 years. This summer just ended, 18 volunteers made four deliveries each to 53 young readers. That’s the spirit that Pat Morgan embodies. Just a year ago in the fall of 2016, the Friends of the North Carolina Public Libraries awarded the Frannie Ashburn Volunteer of the Year Award to Pat Morgan for his dedication to supporting young readers in Watauga County.

Pat, we are so very pleased to honor you among the 2017 inductees into our “Hall of Fame”!


Christine Agnes Behrend

Chris Behrend, our current Director of Operations and a key player in why the Watauga Democrats win local elections, was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the eldest of ten children. She grew up working on the family dairy farm outside of Oshkosh. As the eldest of ten (and according to her son), she has always taken care of her younger siblings, which — as it turned out — was good training for managing, training, and nurturing our young staffers through the 2016 election cycle and forward through the upcoming 2018 cycle. As a single mother Chris worked to earn a degree in accounting and then worked in the health insurance industry for more than 15 years. She then pursued her Masters degree in psychology to become a counselor in 1996, working and volunteering at Green Bay’s Crisis Center for several years, handling family crises and suicide prevention calls.

imageIn 2005 Chris moved to Boone to be closer to her son and grandchildren. From 2006 to her retirement in 2015 Chris worked at New River Behavioral Healthcare in both Wilkesboro and Boone as a substance abuse counselor. Over the past 12 years while living in North Carolina, Chris has done a great deal of volunteer work, helping people prepare their taxes, delivering meals-on-wheels, and becoming a dependable, dedicated, and indispensable volunteer and then staffer for the Watauga Democrats.

Chris did data management and phonebanking for both the Sue Counts campaign and the Watauga Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign in 2014, and by 2015 she was named Director of Data for the Party, handling much of the VoteBuilder work that we depend on for identifying, contacting, and persuading swing voters in our county. By early in 2016, she was promoted to Director of Operations as well as Data, and in that role she managed all the operations at Party headquarters and cracked the “velvet whip” over a corps of talented and committed young staff members. You all know that in that 2016 elections, we lost some but we also won some big ones in this county, and we would not have won what we won without the hard work and dedication of Christine Behrend. Since the 2016 election, Chris has been a key component in our training outreach to neighboring “red” counties. With her leadership, Watauga County will continue to export our “blue spirit” to other progressives yearning to live free.

Chris, we are so very pleased to honor you among the 2017 inductees into our “Hall of Fame”!


Percilla Sue Counts

Sue Counts has dedicated herself to lifelong service, not only to Watauga County but to our entire region.

imageSue was born and raised about 100 miles from here in Sandlick, Dickenson County, Virginia – her family being the first white settlers in that part of Appalachia. She learned what service and sacrifice meant at an early age when her father, who landed at Omaha Beach and was taken prisoner of war at the Battle of the Bulge, took his own life soon after returning home.

Sue loved education and voraciously approached the task of learning more. She worked hard at her studies and became the first person in her family to go to college, taking advantage of the GI Bill’s benefits for “war orphans.” Sue attended Virginia Tech, where she attained bachelor and master degrees, and met the father to her two children at a time when the school’s ratio of male to female students was 50 to 1!

After spending more than a decade beginning her career further north Sue returned to the mountains of her youth, finding herself in our town of Boone that would become her adopted home. Sue’s first role in town was lecturing on foods and nutrition at ASU, and after a series of government jobs accepted her first position in Cooperative Extension coordinating the Southern Appalachian Leadership Initiative on Cancer, forming coalitions to educate and assist women to receive cancer screenings. Before long, she was promoted to Watauga County Extension Director where she assisted local agriculture in transitioning from tobacco to crops like organic fruits and vegetables and founded Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture.

In both 2014 and 2016, Sue was recruited to run a spirited campaign to take back House District 93 from Jonathan Jordan. Connecting with students and relying on long-lived relationships with the agricultural community, Sue was a top-tier challenger in both elections even while coming up short in the end.

Sue’s infectious optimism, energy, and desire to serve for the betterment of her community have informed an entire generation of young (and old) political leaders who have engaged in the tumult of Watauga County politics. Her grace under pressure and humble approach to the teamwork required of a successful campaign are the standard by which all future candidates will be judged.

Sue, we are so very pleased to honor you among the 2017 inductees into our “Hall of Fame”!


Grace Elizabeth McEntee

Before Grace McEntee became our most dedicated, consistent, capable, and indispensable volunteer in our annual (and now epic) plant sale, she spent decades as a dedicated, consistent, capable, and indispensable teacher of literature and writing at Appalachian State University. It might be said that Grace retired from teaching last year to spend more time with our plants.

imageThe spirit of volunteerism is strong in Grace. She has been a volunteer reading tutor at Mabel Elementary School, and she has consistently helped our Field Team with voter registration and get out the vote efforts. She acts her values and she lives her values. She has made a point of investing in companies that match her conservation and social justice values, and she is an avid supporter of local farmers and businesses. The universal consensus about Grace goes like this: She’s the neighbor who will care for your dog or drive you to a doctor’s appointment or do anything else that needs doing. In short, she is the embodiment of what our Democratic Party has historically aspired to be.

Her spirit of helpfulness and selflessness stretches internationally. After Mexico mandated the teaching of English in the primary grades in their public schools, Grace was recruited to become a tutor and mentor to public school teachers in Mexico through many summers, helping them master teaching-of-English and research techniques.

Many of us remember reading her first-person account of the historic “Women’s March on Washington” the day after Trump’s Inauguration. She was there marching for the many of us who couldn’t be there, and she wrote about that experience with — shall I say it? — grace.

But just ask Pam Williamson about Grace’s contribution to the annual Plant Sale — but if you ask, be prepared to sit and listen for awhile. Grace does everything that needs doing and does it with skill and quiet grace (there’s that word again!). She helps plan the entire sale. She starts seeds … and winters over plants that need a little more time to develop … and transplants specimens out of the ground and into pots … and she spends hours grooming and tending. The annual Community Plant Sale has become more than just our biggest fundraiser. It’s become a tourist attraction, and Grace is one of the guiding spirits most responsible for that.

Grace, we are so very pleased to honor you among the 2017 inductees into our “Hall of Fame”!


Lonnie Ray Webster

Lonnie’s dear and lovely wife Ada says of him: “He has always looked for the best in everyone and his favorite saying is ‘most people are honest most of the time,’ and this has always worked for him in trusting people to do the right thing.”

imageLonnie began his career with IBM as a customer service engineer and later went to work with Eastman Kodak. After he retired from Kodak he became for a while a locally sought-after landscape designer, and those of you who have seen the garden that he and Ada maintain in Blowing Rock know that he has a love of plants — especially our wonderful mountain natives — and a creative eye for garden design. But something else at Kodak may have rubbed off on him, because after retirement, he picked up the camera and discovered a whole new creative life in photography — which is , after all, another form of landscaping. He’s a member of the North Carolina Professional Photographers and The National Press Photographers Association. He has been published in National Geographic, Our State magazine and in many other publications including the Watauga Democrat and the High Country Press, where his coverage of local events enlivens the local news and provides in-depth documentation of everything from parades to contentious meetings of the Board of Elections.

He’s photographed historic events, community gatherings, landscapes around the world, and the people who inhabit those landscapes. He’s photographed President Barack Obama, and he’s supplied professional photography for most of our recent Democratic candidates for office. Lonnie has written on his own website, “I believe in immersing myself in other cultures to expand my own horizon and understand my own culture. I have traveled to Croatia, Cuba, Central America, Italy, Canada, and Alaska to capture amazing vistas, wonderful architecture, and enchanting faces.” Lonnie and Ada love train travel, and he likes to say, “a train going anywhere is worth riding.” For years now, Lonnie has been the more-or-less official photographer for the Watauga County Democratic Party, recording all of our local events. Thank God he finds our faces “enchanting” too!

Here’s a laudable and amazing fact: Lonnie and Ada will have been happily married — as of tomorrow, October 1 — for 52 wonderful years.

Lonnie, we are so very pleased to honor you among the 2017 inductees into our “Hall of Fame”!


Watauga Democratic Party Hall of Fame

2011 Inductees

Frances “Jean” Williamson

Everett Leo Mast

Russell Austin “Rusty” Henson

Eula Mae Coffey Fox

D. Glenn Hodges


2012 Inductees

Jesse Allan Presnell

Wade Franklin Wilmoth

Alvis Lee Corum

Margaret “Pinky” Bledsoe Hayden-Carpenter

Iva Dean Wilson Winkler


2013 Inductees

Loretta Clawson

Pam Williamson

Jerry Williamson

Marsha Walpole

Susan Phipps


2014 Inductees

Charlie Wallin

James Marvin Deal

Stella Anderson

Emily Bish

Ian O’Keefe


2015 Inductees

Cullie Max Tarleton

Benjamin Stephenson Goss

Linda Kathleen Campbell

Marjory Estelle Holder

Len Doughton Hagaman


2016 Inductees

Betty Carol Barker Howe

Donna Snyder Duke

Ruth J. Laughlin

Alice Phoebe Naylor

Harvard Glenn Ayers


Sep 052017

imageNorth Carolina Democratic Party Chair Wayne Goodwin will be the featured speaker at the Watauga County Democratic Party’s Fall Rally on Saturday, September 30. The rally is hosted by the ASU chapter of the College Democrats.

Wayne Goodwin served four terms in the North Carolina House before being elected the Commissioner of Insurance in 2008. He was reelected in 2012. After being defeated for reelection in 2016, Goodwin ran for the chairmanship of the North Carolina Democratic Party and won on the first ballot with 92% of the vote.

Goodwin has been recognized for his populist, consumer protection-oriented stances and an approachable leadership style that has brought bipartisan support during his years of public service, especially as the state’s 10th Insurance Commissioner. Between January 2009 and January 2016 Commissioner Goodwin saved North Carolina consumers — individuals, families and businesses — more than $2.4 billion resulting from his decisions on rate cuts, refunds, rebates, and restitution.

As Insurance Commissioner Goodwin made national and statewide news when North Carolina, regularly in the top six or seven states before and during his administration, had improved even more to become the one state in all the United States with the lowest automobile insurance premiums.

The WataugaDems Fall Rally will kick off with a barbecue dinner (with vegetarian option) at 5:30 p.m. in the Main Dining Hall at Appalachian State University. Free parking in the Rivers Street parking deck will be available, with easy and direct access to the rally site via the skyway over Rivers Street.

imageThe Fall Rally will also feature musical entertainment by the Sisters of Perpetual Sarcasm and new inductees into the WataugaDems “Hall of Fame.” The party will also be auctioning off “Precinct Gift Baskets” and other goods and services offered by Democratic office-holders.

Tickets to the Fall Rally are $10 each and are available from any party officer or at the door.

Aug 232017

imageBOONE, 23 August 2017 — The following statement was issued by the ASU College Democrats and the Watauga County Democratic Party Field Team:

On Monday night, a banner reading “A New Dawn is Breaking, Rise and Get Active, Identity Evropa” was hung on the Rivers Street bridge on the Appalachian State University campus, with the goal of establishing a presence for the white supremacist organization, Identity Evropa.

The Watauga County Democratic Party and Appalachian State University’s College Democrats reject and oppose any and all white supremacist ideologies. We stand in solidarity with marginalized students at Appalachian State University, especially students of color.

We are ready and willing to coordinate with campus and community groups to send the message to white supremacist organizations that they are not welcome on Appalachian State’s campus or in the greater Watauga County community.


Aug 092017

imageWASHINGTON, D.C. — An Appalachian State University student is coming to the end of a nine-week internship program with the Washington, D.C. office of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FLa).

Walt Grayson, 21, is a political science senior from Charlotte and started his internship with Nelson on June 2. Grayson served as deputy director of canvassing for the Watauga County Democratic Party during the 2016 campaign cycle. Grayson said he became interested in the inter-workings of the legislative process after interning last summer with the Domnick Cunningham and Whalen law firm in Florida.

Throughout his internship, Grayson’s responsibilities have included attending Nelson’s committees and floor speeches — Finance, Commerce, Aging and Armed Services — conducting legislative research on nominations and bills, shadowing Defense and Foreign Policy aides and Commerce, Finance, and Banking aides and handling constituent correspondence.

“One of my more memorable experiences while on Capitol Hill was participating in an activity with the office’s interns to name a piece of legislation being proposed,” Grayson said. “Each intern proposed names and ideas, and a final name was democratically selected. The title I created — “The Student Loan Relief Act” — was chosen and Senate Bill 1521 was introduced on July 10.”

Grayson said he was present during some historical events such as the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings on Russian involvement in the 2016 election, where Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions and former FBI Director James Comey testified, passage of the Russia and Iran sanctions bill and the various efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“While working in the Senate I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of work being done and the level of productivity in Congress,” Grayson said. “I was also pleasantly surprised with the level of bipartisanship and camaraderie amongst senators and on committees.”

Aug 062017

imageN.C. Governor Roy Cooper visited Boone on Friday, Aug. 4 to tour the historic Appalachian Theatre, located on King Street in downtown Boone. A large crowd of supporters turned out to welcome him.

John Cooper, chair of the theatre’s board of trustees, led the tour along with officers of the Appalachian Theatre. The non-profit organization recently completed the first phase of its renovation, which included refurbishing the historic façade and installing an exact replica of the original marquee, both of which have been restored to their 1938 glory.

Outside under the marquee, the Governor made remarks about the importance of vibrant downtowns and their importance to the state’s economy.  He explained why innovative public-private partnerships such as the Appalachian Theatre enhance communities, build local businesses, and create dynamic tourism destinations.

In a surprise presentation, Gov. Cooper inducted both John and Faye Cooper into the state’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Jul 112017

imageYou are invited to join the Caldwell County Democratic Party for an afternoon of live Folk, Irish, and Blues music on Saturday, July 29th from 2-6 PM at the American Legion Hall at 401 Main St. in Lenoir! BBQ and beer will also be available!


Jun 162017

imageThe Watauga County Democratic Party’s famous Kazoo Band will perform again this year in the Boone July Fourth Parade celebration. The Kazoo Band has been offering virtually the only live music in the parade for many years, performing patriotic and traditional pieces of Americana. Kazoo Band leader Marjory Holder will have kazoos enough for everyone who wants to join the band. No training or musical ability is required. If you can hum, you can play the kazoo.

The Boone July Fourth parade will step off at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, July 4, from the Watauga County Human Services parking lot on West King Street. All riders must be on the float by 10:30 a.m. The parade will conclude at Legends parking lot on Hardin Street, though the float will return riders to the Human Services parking lot after the parade.

Kazoo Band members are urged to wear their Watauga Democratic Party T-shirts or any combination of red, white, and blue. A sun hat and sun screen is also recommended. There will be water available on the float.


© 2016