Young leadership steps up to rejuvenate Macon County Democratic Party
During its annual convention on Saturday, the Macon County Democratic Party voted to elect Corey Duvall as its next chairman. At just 21 years old, Duvall stands as the county's youngest chairman in recent history, and the second youngest Democratic chairman in the state. “My initial reaction was that of surprise,” said Duvall. “But I also knew that I could not back down from this. Macon County deserves to have a bright future, and I know that I am willing to work hard so that we have strong leaders such as Ronnie Beale on our county board of commissioners.”
Duvall, who is about a year older than the state's youngest Democratic chairman, 20-year-old Nick Carpenter from Cleveland County, is part of a young Democratic movement across the state to re-energize voters and to revamp the political party.
“On Saturday, I was very proud to be a part of the Macon County Democratic Party's decision to vote to appoint Corey Duvall as our next chairman,” said the sole Democratic county commissioner Ronnie Beale. “Corey is an energetic, bright young man who will bring a new level of energy and leadership to the party. I am very proud of him and look forward to the things I know he will be able to do for our party.”
Duvall started in politics during the 2008 election with the Young Democrats of Franklin High School. After the 2008 election, he left Franklin to attend Campbell University before moving back to Franklin to finish his college career at Western Carolina University. “I first became involved in the Macon County Young Democrats shortly after the 2010 elections,” said Duvall. “I served as vice president from February 2011 to 2012, and I have served as treasurer since. I, along with several friends, rechartered the WCU College Democrats in 2012 for the first time since the 2008 elections. I served as the vice president from January until May 2012 when I became president.”
Duvall served as president of WCU's College Democrats until November 2012. “During my time serving at WCU the College Democrats were able to register thousands of voters and help to improve voter turnout while working hard to increase voter knowledge through projects on campus such as the Cuts Hurt Forum on Public Education, as well as through several candidate meet and greet events across campus,” said Duvall. “I also served on the College Democrats of North Carolina Executive Board as the Director of Membership. During my time as Membership Director, North Carolina gained nine new college chapters, giving the state a total of 29 College Democrat chapters.”
Sam Spencer, president of the Young Democrats of North Carolina said, “Corey Duvall is a strong voice for Western North Carolina in our organization, and I expect great things from his leadership in Macon County.”
In the Spring of 2012 at the North Carolina Democratic Party State Convention in Raleigh, Duvall was chosen as an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. “It was an incredible experience which allowed me to network with leaders from across our state and nation, while also giving me the chance to sit in on forums, seminars, and caucus meetings on subjects such as youth outreach,” he said. “I hope to be able to put the knowledge gained from my time in Charlotte to work in Macon County.”
With a two-year term ahead of him, Duvall plans to turn Macon County's focus to voter turnout. “The Macon County Democratic Party, much like the College Democrats of WCU, must focus on voter outreach and communication,” said Duvall. “We have to get our message out to the citizens of Macon County. We will be working on several communication tools, including our website, www.maconcountydems.org as well as a weekly newsletter which will begin publication soon.”
Duvall has already begun looking at strategies for the upcoming 2014 election. “The Macon County Democratic Party must focus on Macon County,” he said. “We have three excellent candidates in Ronnie Beale, Vic Perry and Todd Raby. These men have done an excellent job in helping the citizens of Macon County and if our county is going to move forward, we must focus on getting these three men reelected.”
“I look forward to working with the Democrats of Macon County over the next two years,” said Duvall. “We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but together we can succeed and we can win.”
Duvall is not the only young face to be voted to a leadership position on Saturday. Logan Wallace, who currently serves as the president of Macon County's Young Democrats, was voted alongside Duvall to be a delegate representing Macon County to the Democratic State Executive Committee. “I hope that we can help move this party forward through youth involvement,” said Wallace. “So many young people today are either not informed at all, or misinformed about what is going on in our government. It is important that we share our message so people know what we stand for, and not let it be told by someone who is going to twist it.”
Wallace got his start in politics last spring when he started an internship with the Hayden Rogers for Congress campaign. “Through that experience I realized the necessity of our local activists in the process of the campaign,” he said. “National issues are always important, but the impact of local issues is far more evident. We need to get the folks of our community involved and help our representatives in Macon County get elected and stay elected. I look forward to working with the Macon County Democratic Party as well as the state party to help get North Carolina on the right track.”
Through his work with Duvall, Wallace hopes that more young people will be inspired to get involved. “It is important for our young people to be involved in not just our party, but our Democratic process because these are the folks that will even more affected further down the road,” said Wallace. “The young people are this country's future.”
In addition to the chairman, the Democratic Party also elected the remaining county party officers. Joan Maki was elected to first vice-chair; Danny Tinsley, second vice-chair; Faviola Olvera, third vice-chair; and Cindy Solesbee, secretary.
Beale served as the guest speaker for the convention and encouraged all voters, both young and old, to become more involved in politics. Beale informed the crowd that for the first time in since 1898, the North Carolina Senate is under Republican control with 33 Republican Senators and 17 Democrats. The House of Representatives is controlled by Republicans as well, with 77 Republicans and 43 Democrats.
In addition to Republicans controlling both the Senate and the House, Beale noted that of the membership in the General Assembly, there are 56 first term members and 22 second term members.
Beale is the only Democrat currently on the Board of Commissioners, a trend that echoes throughout the state. He informed the crowd that of the 580 commissioners throughout the 100 counties in the state, 303 are Republican, 271 are Democrats, and six are unaffiliated.
“It is more important than ever to get out and vote and to energize the party,” said Beale. “The Democratic part must work harder than ever before to ensure pride, not just in the Democratic party, but for all citizens in North Carolina.”
“Democrats follow two main principles, those principles are the same today as they were in 1910,” said Beale. “Children should never be penalized for the situation they are born into and the elderly should not be penalized because of their age. Everyone should have an equal opportunity at success, that ladies and gentlemen, is why we are Democrats.”