LUMBERTON — Democratic leaders are happy with the results of the week’s organization of Robeson County precincts and believe that good things are ahead for the local party.
Brooke Clark, a Lumberton attorney serving as the party’s interim chairman until the re-do of the April 8 convention is held Aug. 26, said that 12 of the county’s 39 precincts successfully organized between last Thursday and Saturday. Added to the number of precincts that organized earlier this year, 25 precincts are now organized and eligible to send voting delegates to the county convention.
“Our goal is to get all of the precincts organized, but this is a good start,” Clark said. “… I know there are a lot of strong Democrats out there and I hope getting these precincts organized serves as a kick-start to getting them interested again in the party and working together.”
“Robeson County Democrats will now have more organized precincts than they’ve had in a long time,” Wayne Goodwin, chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party. said in a statement Monday. “Though the party rules required a new county convention, I see this as an opportunity to re-engage, re-organize and re-energize our local party and do better outreach to all Robeson County voters for 2018 and 2020 than in recent years.”
The state party’s 13-member Review Committee ruled on July 1 that a new convention must be held after holding a hearing in response to a petition filed by several county Democrats charging that the process used to elect local party officers at the county convention violated the state party’s Plan of Organization. Since the ruling the county party has been without leadership.
John McNeill, a former Robeson County Democratic Party chairman and the current mayor of Red Springs, called having 25 Robeson County precincts organized “phenomenal.” He said in 2012 when he was chairman there were 22 or 23 precincts organized.
“It’s difficult to get small precincts organized,” said McNeill.
McNeill said he isn’t surprised that there is a resurgence in enthusiasm and participation by county Democrats in their local party.
“I saw after the fall election people up in arms about what happened, and they started coming out of the woodwork voicing their concerns,” he said.
The next step in revitalizing the party and setting the foundation for success in the next election cycle begins when the county convention is held. Officers will be elected for the next year.
“A new leader will be picked who hopefully has as their priority organizing and unifying the party,” said Clark, adding that while she has held over the years several party leadership positions she does not want to be the full-time chairman. “Hopefully they will hold meetings with the party’s executive committee, which includes elected officials from the county, and bring folks together to support candidates who can best serve this county.”
Goodwin, who requested Clark serve as interim chairman, said she has done an excellent job in getting precincts organized and preparing for the convention.
“I applaud our interim chair for volunteering to lead the upcoming convention. Given my own roots are from the region, I’m pleased that Democrats will now be on stronger footing as we work with Governor Cooper for greater investments in the schools, roads, farms, small businesses and families of Robeson County.”
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.