Andy Millard (l) and Ray Gasperson.
When the Polk County Board of Elections opened its doors to candidate filing for the 2022 elections at high noon on December 6, Ray Gasperson and Andy Millard both filed to run for County Commissioner. Three seats are open, and all three Republican incumbents also filed.
We all know that Polk is a heavily Republican County. But we also know that our community is fed up with the anger and hate emanating from a small minority in the county. Andy and Ray will run positive campaigns aimed at bringing respect and civility back to our public discourse.
More info to come!
Editors Note: Since publication of this newsletter Polk County has been put in a new U.S. Congressional District 13. Our State's redistricting is being reviewed by the State Supreme Court. Stay tuned for updates.
Right now there are six Dems running to replace Madison Cawthorn in the U.S. House of Representatives. (Click on each photo or name above for the candidates' websites.) Although we cannot endorse a candidate during the primary, there are several excellent ones to choose from.
The deadline for the state legislature to complete the process of redistricting following last year's consensus is November 5, and because the legislature is under GOP control, we're expecting the usual partisan gerrymandering designed to help them and hurt us.
Once the districts are set, we'll have a better idea of exactly where Polk lies within the new districts.
According to a news story from spectrumlocalnews.com, the main points to know right now are:
Stay tuned for the process to heat up soon!
from the Polk County Democratic Party
The motto of the Polk County, NC school system is “Doing What’s Best for Children.” The county Board of Education put that commitment into positive action Tuesday night when they voted to institute a temporary mask mandate for all students, staff and visitors.
While the schools have struggled with decisions related to Covid-19 and the Delta variant, the Polk County Democratic Party deliberately remained silent on the matter. We believe in keeping politics out of schools and allowing the school board to make nonpartisan decisions in the best interest of children and families.
This approach has worked well. The Polk County School System was ranked as North Carolina’s 2nd highest performing school system for 2018-2019 based upon our students’ academic performance. Clearly, our professional educators know what they’re doing.
But a small, vocal group of citizens has waged an unwarranted and unreasonable fight against any common-sense pandemic protocols, hampering the board’s efforts at calm and considered deliberations. This angry and emotional group loudly claims to represent the vast majority of Polk Citizens. They most certainly do not.
This is not about personal liberty. It’s about keeping students and teachers healthy and keeping schools open. Most civic-minded parents and citizens want our children to be safe. We want to help slow the spread of a disease we still don’t fully understand. And we want our educators to make difficult decisions without insults and demands being shouted in their faces.
There are a total of 115 local school systems in North Carolina. All but seven of them were already under mask mandates prior to Monday’s meeting. Now Polk has done the same, and for good reason. The Polk County Democratic Party applauds the Board of Education for prioritizing the welfare of our children under difficult circumstances. The board truly is doing what’s best for children.
Coopers Gap Democratic Precinct held a potluck picnic Sunday, May 23rd for its second meeting of the year. Although it was quite warm, there was a cool breeze blowing underneath the picnic shed. For some of us, it was the first time we had participated in a social gathering since our long pandemic seclusion. We enjoyed socializing and getting to know each other better. After sharing a delicious meal, we discussed the best ways to grow our membership. We decided that each of us will contact two people we know in Coopers Gap precinct in the coming months. Connecting with them several times, we will bring them to our next gathering. Another topic discussed was the possibility of taking on a community service project as a way to give back to the community. A few of the ideas were collecting for the Sunny View Elementary food bank, providing dinner for the Sunny View Volunteer Fire Department, creating hygiene boxes, establishing a scholarship for a Coopers Gap High school student, or sponsoring a family at Christmas, etc. We will continue this discussion at our next meeting and decide on a project. It was agreed to meet again on Sunday, September 26th at 1:00pm for another potluck picnic. All are invited to join us. For further information contact Nolan Just at email@example.com.
We had about 50 attendees at our Virtual Inaugural Ball the evening of the inauguration. Senator Jeff Jackson celebrated with us, as did Sam and Deda Edney. Everyone had a chance to express their joy over the occasion. There were toasts and door prizes and singalongs. In his moving invocation, Dr. Warren Carson asked for a blessing "as we await the silver lining that comes after the dark cloud, as we await the bright new star that comes after every rainstorm." It was a wonderful way to ring in the Biden Administration.
The Polk County Democratic Party stands in strenuous opposition to everything connected with the violent mob that overran our nation's Capitol building and threatened the lives of our duly elected representatives, and sought to overturn the results of a free and fair election. One of those who helped encourage the mob was our own newly-elected Representative Madison Cawthorn. What follows is a statement we sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on January 12:
Dear Speaker Pelosi,
I am the chair of the Polk County, NC Democratic Party, which is located in our state's 11th Congressional District. We believe that our representative, Madison Cawthorn, breached his oath of office by encouraging and inciting the riotous mob that overran and looted the Capitol Building, disrupted the lawful business of Congress, and endangered your life and the lives of your colleagues. The Polk County Democratic Party urges you to initiate an investigation into Mr. Cawthorn's actions and, if sufficient grounds are found, to expel him as a Member of the United States House of Representatives.
Thank you for considering this request. We wish you and your colleagues safety and wisdom as you help steer the country through this perilous time.
Chair, Polk County Democratic Party
On Monday, December 7, Ray Gasperson ended his 12-year run on as a Polk County Commissioner. As he entered the Womack Building for his final meeting, he was greeted by a large group of grateful Democrats who were there to thank him and see him off. Everyone was masked, and we were well-distanced except for a brief moment when we closed ranks for the photo above. Ray was overwhelmed; he described it as "one of the high points of my life."
This is the end of a chapter, but not of the book. Ray has not closed out the possibility of running again in 2022. During the meeting, Ray gave a farewell message, which is reproduced here in its entirety:
When I review my 12 years on the Polk Board of Commissioners, my frequent approach toward contentious issues on which the BOC needed to take action would result in me on many occasions getting myself into “Good Trouble." This is a phrase coined by the late Representative from Georgia John Lewis. As Representative Lewis would say, “Good trouble philosophy is very simple, when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, say something, do something, get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble.” I believe this philosophy helps summarize the approach I took as Commissioner. I have always focused on taking the necessary actions that would put the interests of all the citizens of Polk County first and foremost, regardless of political affiliation.
10 years ago, during the process needed to approve the site and build the county DSS building, known as the Howard B. Greene Human Services Building, I got myself into whole lot of “good trouble." It proved to be a very contentious issue, especially with many members of the community, for a desperately needed project that I was spearheading. Fortunately, in the end, the majority of the Board worked with me to see this project to completion. Through the years I have frequently engaged in “good trouble” over many issues, for example (just to name a few): zoning, subdivision regulation, Lake Adger and waterlines, annual county budgets, county revaluations, county personnel, and county Health District issues. Even though I often felt like a “voice in the wilderness,” I was always working to find common ground with the public and other members of the Board. And, more often than not, through compromise we did find common ground.
The “good trouble” that I created over the location of the new Sheriff office and Detention Center has been proved to be one of the most positive for me. Five years ago, the other four members of the Board, at that time, had chosen a location that I was convinced was inferior and would prove to be very problematic. Fortunately I was able to work behind the scenes to help secure the option to purchase the site were the new Sheriff office and jail is now located. The vote for this property purchase was unanimous! And, as a major bonus, we also now have a prepared site for a future Polk County Courthouse and County Government Services Building.
It’s important for me to note that the current members of the Board have worked very well together. Over the last couple of years this has greatly reduced me engaging in “good trouble.”
I am convinced that doing the hard work of having a vibrant and healthy democracy often requires getting into “good trouble.” My challenge for all citizens of Polk County is to commit yourselves to doing the hard work of democracy, and when necessary, not hesitating getting into “good trouble.”
Finally, I would like to again thank the citizens of Polk County. My journey over the last 12 years serving on the Polk County Board of Commissioners has been one of the most challenging and satisfying experiences of my adult life. I have had the privilege to work with many remarkable and talented elected officials, county employees and volunteers all striving to make our county an excellent place to live, work, play, raise families, be educated and worship. I am very grateful to everyone who has supported me through several election cycles and years of public service, especially my wife Sue and my adult children Laura, Corey and Julia. I realize that “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” And now for me, the time has arrived to transition from serving as a Commissioner to other purposes and experiences. Of course I will continue to work to improve our county and, most likely, will occasionally get into “good trouble.”
While we were deeply disappointed at our lack of success locally, we note that there was a small but measurable movement toward Democrats in our state and county: just under 2% in our direction statewide and 1.7% in Polk County. Furthermore, this trend continued across the entire 11th Congressional District.
Turnout was up for both parties in Polk. Overall, 76% of Polk's registered voters cast a ballot in the November 3 election. That's a record, and it's a good thing.
But the reality is that there are more Republican than Democratic voters in Polk County. 25% of Polk voters are registered Democrats, 37% are Republicans, and 38% are Unaffiliated -- but a strong majority of those independent voters appear to vote as Republicans.
In just about every race from president to state House of Representatives, Polk's results were virtually the same: 63% for the Republican candidate and 37% for the Democrat.
As pointed out in my last email, that translates to 1.7 GOP voters for every Democratic voter. That's a hard reality, but we must recognize it for what it is. You've often heard me say that there are more of us than you think, and that's true. But for now, there are more of them than there are of us.
Don't let it discourage you. We know beyond a doubt that we're on the right side of the issues and of history. Besides, we may be outnumbered locally, but we're way ahead nationally. We've elected our guy to the White House by a wide margin. We've elected the first woman and person of color to the vice presidency. And we can look forward to at least four years of competence and strong leadership. That's worth celebrating, wouldn't you say?
Our time will come in Polk County. In the meantime, we need to support one another, build our party, provide a welcoming alternative when voters are ready to come into the light, and live with our fellow community members.
Stay tuned for a new initiative to help us build our community of Democrats.
For 2020 election results, click here to access the Polk County Board of Elections results page.
We held our Virtual Fall Rally on Sunday, September 28. It featured multiple candidates, lots of fun videos submitted by Polk Democrats, and a little music. Andy edited everything into 9 separate videos, which are shared below. Enjoy them!
- Live our values
- Embrace diversity
- Work to elect Dems
- Support one another
- Look ahead, not back
We fight for:
- Integrity in politics
- Human dignity
- Affordable healthcare
- Climate stewardship
- Public education
- Equitable justice
- Economic fairness
- Voting rights
- Women's rights
- Minority rights