Parker challenges Dems

Published 7:25 pm Friday, May 28, 2010

Staff Writer

They have work to do, and they know it.
An area District Court judge challenged local Democrats to raise awareness of their candidates and get out the vote this fall, and it sounded as if her pep talk didn’t fall on deaf ears.
Building candidate name recognition “would push the Democratic Party in the general election, where people would know the candidates, know the issues,” Judge Regina Parker of Williamston told the Beaufort County Democratic Women at a meeting in Washington.
The club and allied Democrats should continue “to be that strong support that the candidates need as they go into the November election,” Parker said Wednesday night.
Parker is running for re-election, enjoying unopposed status in the 2nd Judicial District, which covers Hyde, Martin, Tyrrell, Beaufort and Washington counties.
Parker’s seat is nonpartisan, but the N.C. Code of Judicial Conduct allows judges to address partisan groups.
Some of Parker’s speech read like a collective warning about the political landscape.
The judge indicated that, in her travels during the May 4 primary election, she was alarmed to find that voters knew little to nothing about higher-level candidates, like those running for nonpartisan seats on the N.C. Court of Appeals.
“I just don’t know this individual” was the refrain Parker said she heard from the voters with whom she conversed.
The party should broadcast more information about its favored office-seekers, and candidate forums should be a part of that mix, she added.
Parker also urged activists to appeal to unaffiliated voters who are “on the fence about different things.”
While praising the club for its efforts in past elections, Parker prodded the organization’s incoming officers to set about the work of turning out voters on Election Day.
“I have spoken to you a number of times over the years, but this was something that I felt was important,” she said.
Parker’s enthusiasm carried over into the club’s induction of officers, as new president Delores Lee took over the gavel from Eltha Booth, who stepped down after years at the helm.
Echoing President Barack Obama, Lee said, “I appreciate this honor, and I’m fired up and ready to go.”
In her time at the podium, Alice Mills Sadler, chairwoman of the Beaufort County Democratic Party, affirmed that there is hard work ahead, but she also highlighted the progress made so far.
She said the county party has set up a Web site and an election-year headquarters, and that volunteers have participated in phone banks soliciting “how-would-you-vote” opinions from Democratic voters.
She said the party has scheduled a backyard, $25-per-person fundraiser for July 27.
“We’re active, we’re trying to make ourselves known as a party that’s on the move,” she said.
Also present was Barbara Harrison, chairwoman of the statewide Democratic Women in District 3, which roughly mirrors the 3rd Congressional District.
Harrison, a resident of Craven County, requested that her audience participate in a letter-writing initiative targeting registered Democratic and unaffiliated voters.
Each participant in the program is expected to write 20 letters asking the recipients to vote on Nov. 2, she said.
“It’s been proven successful, and we want to try to do it again this year because this year is such an important time for us,” Harrison told the club and guests.
Harrison mentioned the necessity of motivating the first-time voters that Obama drew to the polls in 2008.
Ann Cherry, the Beaufort County Democrats’ secretary, echoed Harrison, asserting that first-time voters will be crucial this fall, not just in 2012 when the next presidential election rolls around.
“We need them this year,” Cherry said.