LAURINBURG — Wayne Goodwin, chairman of North Carolina’s Democratic Party, continued his rural listening tour Monday stopping in Scotland County to hear from local residents and share his party’s vision for the state.
The meeting was a who’s who of local Democratic leaders from across the city and county and all precinct chairs. Walter Jackson, chair of the Scotland Democrat Party, said those represented will be tasked with bringing the information they gathered at the meeting back to voters in their particular areas and energizing them.
Goodwin, a Hamlet native, said the tour is focused on communities that have been left behind by an improved economy.
“I used to represent Scotland County in the legislature,” Goodwin said. “This is like coming home for me, so the message is what Democrats need to do to represent more strongly the needs, concerns, hopes and dreams of rural Scotland County.”
The 51-year-old Goodwin believes that organization and education can overcome what some see as restrictions on Democratic and minority voters like gerrymandering and House Bill 1092, which proposes to make requiring ID to vote a constitutional amendment.
“It will require a combination of …organizing precincts more than ever before and educating the voters as to when early voting begins as to when the polls are open in their communities and making sure that people know that Democrats have candidates running in every legislative district in the state,” he said. “We’re fighting for every vote.”
Lillie Revels, chair for Precinct 5, which includes Johns Station believes it also comes down to taking ownership of one’s vote.
“Some of them will wait and say, ‘Well, I don’t need to because everybody else is going to,” and that’s where the biggest mistake is made because … then nobody does,” Revels said. “Voters need to depend on themselves to do it. Don’t wait on the next person to do it.”
The meeting was opened by state Rep. Garland Pierce, who is running as the incumbent for House District 48 which represents Scotland and Hoke counties. He face Republican Russell Walker in November.
“We need a lot of support this year. There’s a lot of things happening that’s going to do a lot of damage if we’re not careful, but whatever obstacle that are put in our way, let them not be obstacles but opportunities,” Pierce said. “Let’s get people to the polls, educate voters and let them know the importance of what were doing, where we are here in the state of North Carolina. We need to start working hard because we really need every vote and every vote counts.”
Jan Schmidt, co-chair of the Scotland County Democratic Women, believes the best way to reach people is to let them know that their vote should be about issues not party lines.
“The issues that we’re running on are not necessarily Democratic or Republican issues. They are really American issues; they’re state issues. They’re things that everybody needs — the fact that they’re talking about eliminating pre-existing conditions from health care that’s a human issue, to feel that once you’ve been sick once insurance companies cannot cover you in the future — these are things that affect everybody,” Schmidt said. “There are some people we will not influence; they run on one issue. Those people who vote that one issue will not vote on all these other issues.”
Goodwin said the listening tour is important because government can “best represent the needs of our people” by leaving the halls of legislature and going to the grassroots level in communities, especially rural areas, to learn what the needs truly are, according to Goodwin.
Monday’s tour also included stops in Robeson, Richmond, Union, and Anson counties and will be followed by new visits over the summer in Western North Carolina. Earlier in the tour, Goodwin visited Cumberland, Bladen, Duplin, and Sampson counties.
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169