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Local Democrats attend statewide conference

Staff Reports • Dec 15, 2015 at 2:44 PM

The Wilson County Democratic Party was well represented at a recent statewide conference for county Democratic Party leadership to develop strategies to win elections this year. 

Meeting in Clarksville, the Tennessee Democratic County Chairs Association was welcomed by Mayor Kim McMillan, a former state legislator.

“We learned about different databases, social media, and grassroots organizing,” said Diane Wilde, chair of the Wilson County Democratic Party.  “The information that was shared is guaranteed to help our candidates for state and local offices.

“We were extremely pleased that Amos Powers, Democratic candidate for 6th Congressional District representative, received strong support from around the district.” 

Wilson County Democratic Party members first vice chair Marilyn Bryant, Cliff Reuter, Ann Reuter, Bill McKinney and Jesse McLevain joined Wilde at the conference. 

For the first time this year, the three Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate appeared together. Terry Adams, of Knoxville, Gordon Ball, of Newport, and Larry Crim, of Nashville, made brief presentations about how they plan to defeat U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander this fall.

Lenda Sherrell, candidate for 4th Congressional District representative, brought her campaign staff to share ideas on campaign organizing. As experts in grassroots organizing, Sherrell’s staff offered a variety of techniques for candidates and county leaders. 

“Lenda Sherrell is not a professional politician,” said Wilde. “She is an intelligent, compassionate woman who will make citizens in Tennessee proud that she is in Washington.” 

At the banquet during the evening, state Rep. Joe Pitts introduced the honoree, retiring state Rep. Mike Turner. Lenda Sherrell introduced the keynote speaker, Mayor Andy Berke, of Chattanooga.

Dozens of candidates from around the state spoke briefly to the group during the weekend. In a panel discussing important issues, Anne-Marie Farmer with Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence, an organization that promotes public education, questioned the need for vouchers. 

“Studies continue to pour in showing vouchers do not increase achievement. And they are taking precious funding from the public school systems,” Farmer said.

Also on the panel was Matt Mullen with Tennessee Citizen Action who spoke on the financial burdens to small-budget rural hospitals by the refusal of Medicaid expansion in Tennessee. Non-expansion will cost hospitals $4.66 billion and is pushing insurance premiums up to cover unreimbursed emergency room use, he said.  

 Unless Medicaid is expanded, Tennessee will lose federally appropriated funds of $1.4 billion from federal income taxes paid by Tennesseans that will go to other states, Mullen said.

The panel included Chris Sanders with the Tennessee Equality Project who asked all to promote a bill to insure the safety of all children by reducing bullying. 

“We need to be fostering fair and equal treatment in our schools and relieve the stress that often leads students to drop out of school or harm themselves,” Sanders said.

Jeff Teague with Planned Parenthood said being able to limit one’s family was a huge help to women getting higher levels of education and translated in big advantages for their children’s academic success, health and well being.

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