Blount Democrats reorganize, sets sights on 2011-12 election

The Blount County Democratic Party gathered Saturday, April 9, to reorganize their team and refocus on issues facing the community and the country.

About 25 folks were on hand in the Sharon Lawson Room of the Blount County Public Library for the convention. The members were situated in rows that were labeled according to the districts where they live in Blount County.

Tony Webb was re-elected chair of the party. Also elected officers were Lee Erickson, first vice chair; Ronnie Astor, second vice chair; Marte Lawrence, secretary; and Tom Miller, treasurer.

“First of all, this day is for all Democrats to come together. We’re sitting in districts, and we elect representatives for the districts that will serve and work in their districts to bring new people into the party,” Webb said of the officers who were elected to serve for two years. Democratic Party State Executive Committee members Dan Lawson and Barbara Wagner explained that anyone could vote for the officers if they were registered Democrats and live in Blount County. Those gathered shared their thoughts on national, state and local politics, and how the party continues to play a significant role in government.

Lawson said Blount County Democrats will keep a close eye on what Republican Gov. Bill Haslam does in Nashville and how much of former Democrat Gov. Phil Bredesen’s policies he continues. “Most folks are satisfied with Gov. Bredesen’s policies and would hope Gov. Haslam would continue his policies,” Lawson said. “Gov. Bredesen reached out to all people.”

Wagner said local Democrats will be ready to support President Obama in 2012. “Certainly in the next year we’ll be raring up for a presidential election,” she said.

Webb said living in a heavily Republican county can make it tough on Democrats. “In this county, people vote on party lines,” Webb said. “They don’t listen to our message.”

Webb said in the last election Democrat county commissioners who were voted off the board had spent four years pleading for fiscal responsibility and often were ignored. “Now the commission seems to want to spend instead of focusing on reducing the deficit, which is huge,” he said. “Our deficit is so much larger than many counties our size.”

Wagner said the Democratic party is more aligned with voters because its platform appeals to working families throughout the country. Lawson said that with the near shutdown of the federal government, people are seeing how vital federal government is to society. “People are realizing that without government, we would have anarchy,” he said.

Wagner said the next two years will be a challenging time in the country but also a time of opportunity. She also encouraged people in Blount County to gather with members of the Democratic party on May 7 at the Airport Hilton for the annual Roosevelt Dinner.

Party member Brent Dodson said it is important to get new people involved in the party. “Get people who are passionate about the party and about what goes on locally,” he said. “New people are the lifeblood of your organization.”

Longtime party member and Blount County Election Commission member Ben Rauhuff said residents can’t take new taxes. “We’ve got to hold the line on spending,” he said. “We can’t just keep taxing the people; we have to hold the line.”

The 2011 Roosevelt Dinner will be held Saturday May 7 at 6:30 p.m. at the Airport Hilton. Tickets are on sale now and are available from any Blount County Democratic Executive Committee Member. For more information, contact Tony Webb at 865-386-6181 or Marte Lawrence at 865-766-9977.

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