Democrats united through annual convention

Published 6:37 pm Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Beaufort County Democratic Party held its annual convention last weekend, featuring candidates on the Democratic ticket in various North Carolina races and hearing platforms from those candidates.

The convention was attended by approximately 70 people and serves as a way for local Democrats to hear from potential elected officials, from the Beaufort County Commissioners’ race up to the governorship, according to Cathy Gaynor, president of the Beaufort County Democratic Party.

“This year was really important because it starts the selection for the delegate process — national delegates that will go to the National Democratic Convention in Philadelphia,” Gaynor said. “We select delegates, but (the convention) is almost like a pep rally because everyone who’s running for office was either there or sent a message.”

Those in attendance heard from Marva Fisher Baldwin, a candidate for District 3 of the N.C. House of Representatives, who is running against incumbent Republican Michael Speciale, as well as Brownie Futrell, a candidate for District 1 of the N.C. Senate, who is running against incumbent Republican Bill Cook. The group also heard from Attorney General and Democratic candidate Roy Cooper, who is running against incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory. Other Democratic candidates for the Beaufort County Commissioners’ race were also in attendance, Gaynor said.

Gaynor said area Democrats she has heard from are primarily concerned about job creation in the state and county, as well as protecting waterways in the region. Making sure eastern North Carolina is represented in Raleigh properly is also a big issue in the minds of Democrats locally.

“We’re focused on electing strong people that will represent eastern North Carolina,” Gaynor said. “It is such a unique area in the state. I think the water, recreation and tourism potential that is (in eastern N.C.) is what makes it unique, and then its history is so unique to the entire state, so that was mentioned (during the convention).”

The party will host a general party fundraiser in June, proceeds of which will go to support the election of Democrats countywide in November, Gaynor said.

Gaynor said Cooper is scheduled to visit in June.

“I think (the convention is important) because it’s a time for Democrats to come together and coalesce around those who are the winners of the primary, and it leads up to the fundraiser that will happen in June, so it’s a time for us to come together as a party.”

The Beaufort County Democratic Party headquarters is located at 139 East Main Street in downtown Washington.