Norman Garrett, newly elected Democratic 10th Georgia Congressional District chair, last month encouraged Oconee County Democrats to run for local offices, particularly in the cities, as a stepping stone for strengthening the party in the county.
“What you’ll find is it is a whole lot easier to win these seats than you think it is,” Garrett said, speaking specifically of seats on city councils.
The Oconee County Democratic Committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Chamber of Commerce where Stephanie Doerr, a member of the Board of Directors of the Firefly Trail Inc., will be the guest speaker. The Firefly Trail is to run from Athens to Union Point in Greene County.
Oconee County Republicans will meet at 6:30 p.m.on Monday, also at the Chamber, to hear a legislative panel consisting of Sen. Bill Cowsert. Rep. Houston Gaines and Rep. Marcus Wiedower, all of whom represent Oconee County in the General Assembly.
Scott Hilton, director of Gov. Brian Kemp’s newly formed Georgians First Commission, also will give a presentation.
Advice From Garrett
Garrett, elected in January to the state Democratic position, is a Monroe city councilman and Walton County Democratic Committee chair.
While Garrett encouraged the 17 persons in the audience to run for office, he also stressed the importance of voter registration for the party.
He said people in rental property need to be contacted frequently because of high turnover.
He also said young people need to be registered and then told of the importance of actually voting.
“The young voters are going to be the key to our success in terms of winning these seats,” Garrett said.
“It really don’t do me no good to talk to you all,” Garrett said. “Everybody here votes anyway. So the people that we really need to be talking to is outside the door.”
Garrett also encouraged those present to donate to the party every month.
Oconee County has a population of 38,028, and its four cities are home to 4,977 persons, or only 13 percent of the total.
(Watkinsville has a population of 2,892. Bogart has a population of 1,091, with most of that in Oconee County. North High Shoals has a population of 733, and Bishop has a population of 261.)
So most Oconee County residents cannot run for city council seats.
Karen Hilyard, a member of the Oconee County Planning Commission, encouraged people to apply for citizen boards and commissions in the county, since they are open to all county residents.
“We really need people, we really need the scrutiny of one of us on as many boards as possible,” she said.
“If we are not watching and we are not asking questions,” Hilyard said, “then anything pretty much can happen.”
Hilyard told those present if they cannot afford to commit the time needed to serve on the county’s citizen committees and boards, they can contribute by attending meetings or watching tapes of them. (Video of many meetings are on the Vimeo site of Oconee County Observations.)
Doerr, an Oconee County contractor who operates as Make Mine Home, will talk at the meeting on Thursday evening about Firefly Trail Inc.
Firefly Trail Inc. is a Georgia non-profit incorporated to create a multi-use trail from Athens to Union Point along the corridor of the historic Athens Branch of the Georgia Railroad.
The goal is to build a multi-purpose path for pedestrian, bicycle, and other non-motorized uses that will stretch 39 miles.
At present, only a mile of the trail is open.
The Georgia Railroad, Georgia’s first state-chartered railroad, opened in 1841 to connect Athens to Augusta by way of Union Point.
The video below is of the March 21 meeting of the Oconee County Democratic Committee.
I was not able to attend the meeting. Penny Mills did attend and recorded the video.
Melissa Hopkinson, co-chair of the party, introduced Garrett at 2:58 in the video.