Democrats celebrate HQ opening
by Kellen Moore
Local Democrats gathered Sunday at the party’s King Street headquarters, intent on building excitement for the impending elections and supporting local candidates.
Riding on a wave of excitement from last week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, the local Democrats that turned out Sunday were raring to go with stump speeches, cheers of support and an abundance of zeal.
“Quite frankly, the energy was incredible,” said Diane Tilson, chairwoman of the Watauga County Democratic Party, about the DNC. “We were able to get across in a very simple way what’s at stake.”
Several who attended the DNC or merely watched on television were anxious to bring that ebullient atmosphere to the local level.
N.C. Senate candidate Roy Carter and N.C. House candidate Cullie Tarleton made appearances at the headquarters’ grand opening, as well as Watauga County commissioner candidates Billy Kennedy, Virginia Roseman and John Welch.
School board candidates Jay Fenwick, Barbara Kinsey and Brenda Reese also spoke briefly Sunday to the crowd that packed into the small building, windows plastered with campaign signs.
Several of the candidates took the opportunity to make lighthearted digs about their opponents, but they also emphasized the seriousness of this campaign.
“The future of our state and county is in the balance right now,” Kennedy said.
The headquarters is in close proximity to Appalachian State University, a factor on which the party is already capitalizing.
Jesse Presnell, third vice chairman of the Watauga County Democratic party, said about three to six volunteers have been on campus daily, helping students register to vote and sharing their message.
They also have canvassed apartment complexes and made the student community a priority.
“The youth turnout, I would say, is better than it was in 2008 for volunteers,” Presnell said.
The party headquarters is located at 352 W. King St. in Boone. The doors are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, although volunteers are often present outside the set hours.
Visit WataugaDems.com for more information.