Towns County Democrats encourage younger voter turnout

Election, News
Towns County Democrats

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Members of the Towns County Democratic Party visited the local high school for three days last week, encouraging students nearing voting age to register to cast their ballots in future elections.

“Students who are age 17 ½ may register for the 2020 election cycle,” Vickie Plunkett explained. “Voters in Georgia do not register by Party but will declare their Party affiliation during Georgia’s presidential preference primary on March 24.”

According to the U.S. Census, voting rates have historically varied according to age, with older Americans generally voting at higher rates than younger Americans. In 2016, this was once again the case, as citizens, 65 years and older, reported higher turnout (70.9 percent) than 45- to 64-year-olds (66.6 percent), 30- to 44-year-olds (58.7 percent) and 18- to 29-year-olds (46.1 percent). However, in 2016, young voters ages 18 to 29 were the only age group to report increased turnout compared to 2012, with a reported turnout increase of 1.1 percent. All older age groups either reported small yet statistically significant turnout decreases (45- to 64-year-olds and those age 65 and older) or turnout rates not statistically different from 2012 (30- to 44-year-olds).

In any given presidential election, the number of reported voters typically increases relative to the previous presidential election, largely as a product of increases in the size of the citizen voting-age population. Data shows changes in both the number of reported voters and the citizen voting-age population between 2012 and 2016. Overall, in 2016, there were about 4.6 million more reported voters than in 2012. A majority of these additional voters (3.7 million) were 65 years and older. However, despite these additionally reported voters, the overall voting rate was not statistically different between the two elections.

Towns County Democrats will hold their next monthly meeting on Thursday, Feb. 13, at the Towns County Civic Center in Hiawassee, Plunkett said.  A pot-luck meal begins at 6 p.m. and the meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Meetings are open to the public.

Featured Image: Towns County Democrats David and Vickie Plunkett, seated, provide voter information to Towns County High School student Gage Denton during a voter registration effort conducted in late January at the school.

Updated link:

https://towns.fetchyournews.com/2020/02/11/towns-gop-shares-mission-statement-belief-list-with-school/

Towns County Democrats join Women’s March

News
Towns County Democrats

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Five Towns County residents joined thousands of women across the country in participating in the 4th annual Women’s March on Saturday, Jan. 18, in Washington D.C. and Sylva, N.C.

Towns County Democrats

Elaine Roberts

“Women, femmes, and allies will join together in the streets to show our collective power and make 2020 the year we finish what we started and defeat Donald Trump,” the call to action read. “The march will be led by the Chilean protest group, Lastesis. When the march reaches the front of the White House (16th and H St. NW), they will commence the global feminists protest anthem, Un Violador en tu Camino (A Rapist in Your Path). After the anthem is done, the marchers will head back to Freedom Plaza.”

The Women’s March included Denise and David Phillips of Young Harris who marched in Sylva, NC, along with David Best of Hiawassee (not pictured); Charlotte Sleczkowski, Towns County Democratic Committee chair (featured image), and Elaine Roberts, both of Hiawassee, who took part in the main march in Washington, D.C.

Denise and David Phillips

Marches were simultaneously held in over 200 cities throughout the world.

“The mission of Women’s March is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change,” the national organization’s mission statement reads. “Women’s March is a women-led movement providing intersectional education on a diverse range of issues and creating entry points for new grassroots activists & organizers to engage in their local communities through training, outreach programs, and events. Women’s March is committed to dismantling systems of oppression through nonviolent resistance and building inclusive structures guided by self-determination, dignity, and respect.”

 

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Political parties unite to support youth leadership skills

News
speech contest - Towns County

HIAWASSEE, Ga.- Towns County’s Republican and Democratic parties have joined forces in an effort to promote leadership skills among area youth. Initiated in 2009 by members of the Towns County GOP, the annual “Top of Georgia Student Development Speech Contest” was created to bolster the confidence and encourage achievement for local students. Specialized preparation is offered by members of the speech contest committee, and this year’s event will be chaired by 2019 winner Samantha Church. Church was the first student selected in the history of the program to chair the committee.

“Prior to the contest, participants receive concentrated training and practice in the various nuances of preparing and presenting speeches,”  Towns County GOP Chair Betsy Young explained.

Samantha Church

Contest Chair Samantha Church (right) with Georgia State Senator John Wilkinson at a 2019 political function.

Speech contest participants will compete for a $400 prize, awarded to the top winners in the middle school and high school divisions. Organizers expect over 60 student speakers to take part in the upcoming event. Six preliminary sessions will be held, and the winners will compete on Feb. 25, 2020, at the Towns County Senior Center in Hiawassee.

Adam Penland, the contest’s sole two-time winner, went on to take top place in the state’s Future Business Leaders of America speech contest and placed runner-up in the national event. “Communication skills are the number one skills most employers look for when hiring employees, so the information you gain from this program can expand your options for employment more than you ever thought you could,” Penland said in support of the leadership training.

Past winners have proceeded to be selected to introduce state elected leaders at public events.

“Being competent in public speaking automatically instills confidence in a person as they navigate the roadways of life,” Towns County Democrats’ Chair Charlene Sleczkowski said. ” That’s why offering such an opportunity, beginning at the middle school level – 6th through 8th grades – and continuing through high school – 9th through 12th grades – gives our students a leg up in life over others.”

Towns County Democrats plan for 2020 at Blue Fest

News, Politics
Towns County Democrats

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. – Democrats from across seven north Georgia counties gathered Saturday, Oct. 26, at Meeks Park in Blairsville to hear candidates for federal offices, share a meal, listen to local musicians, and learn how they can help the planet. Hosted by the Towns and Union counties Democratic committees, Blue Fest featured U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff of Atlanta and Dan Wilson of Rabun County, prospective candidate for Georgia’s 9th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Ossoff, who is seeking to replace incumbent Sen. David Perdue, is running an anti-corruption campaign in his effort to claim the party’s nomination in the March 24 Georgia primary.” Vickie Plunkett, a member of the Towns County Democratic Party said.  “Ossoff set campaign fundraising records in the 2017 special election to fill Georgia’s 6th Congressional District House seat.  He has been endorsed by U.S. Rep. John Lewis, the dean of the Georgia congressional delegation. Wilson spoke of finding common ground between Democrats and Republicans as the means of ending today’s current political polarization, which he said is harming the country. An ordained United Methodist Church minister, Wilson is expected to make an announcement about his candidacy for the House seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Doug Collins once Gov. Brian Kemp appoints the person who will serve out the remainder of Sen. Johnny Isakson’s term. Isakson is resigning from the Senate effective Dec. 31. Collins is counted among the front-runners for the appointment.”

Local Democrats additionally heard from a spokesman for Matt Lieberman of Atlanta, who was the first Georgia Democrat to make public his intention to run for Isakson’s seat.

Charlotte Sleczkowski

Towns County Democratic Chair Charlotte Sleczkowski

Blue Fest drew Democrats from Towns, Union, Fannin, Rabun, Hall, Dawson, and White counties to Meeks Park.  In addition to the candidates, they heard music by guitarist and singer Nelson Thomas, who is also chair of the Union County Democratic Committee, and keyboardist Mike Davis. Towns County Democratic Committee Chair Charlotte Sleczkowski also welcomed June Krise, 9th District Democratic chair, who emphasized ongoing voter-registration efforts throughout the state and who encouraged Democrats to identify candidates for state legislative seats and county positions.

Betty Holland, chair of the Dawson County Democratic Committee and founder of the North Georgia Conservation Coalition presented measures Georgians can take to reduce their plastic footprint and to reduce energy costs and thereby lower carbon emissions which are contributing to global climate change.

Towns County Democrats meet the second Thursday of the month at the Towns County Civic Center in Hiawassee.  A pot-luck meal begins at 6 p.m. and the meeting starts at 6:30.  The next meeting is Nov. 14.

More information about Towns County Democrats is available at their recently launched website: http://www.townsdemocrats.com..

Feature Image:  U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff of Atlanta, second from left, is welcomed by (L-R) Nelson Thomas, Union County Democratic chair; Charlotte Slezckowski, Towns County Democratic chair; and June Krise, 9th District Democratic chair.

Towns County Democrats promote Abrams’ tour

News, Politics

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams will be speaking on Sept. 17 at 5 pm at the Habersham Recreation Center at 120 Paul Franklin Rd. in Clarkesville, GA.

“She will be completing a tour of north Georgia that day and will end the day by meeting with 9th District Democrats,”  Vickie Plunkett of the Towns County Democratic Party said. “Habersham Democrats will be co-hosting with the Dawson Democrats.”

The doors will open at 5 pm.  A requested donation from each attendee of $10 will cover the cost of the two rooms, security, advertising, refreshments, and other items.

Abrams’ Fair Fight Action Team will deliver a presentation at 5:30. In the meantime, Abrams will meet with 9th District candidates for 2019 and 2020. Abrams will speak at 6 pm prior to conducting a photo line.

“The 2020 election will carry historic consequences,” FairFight2020.org predicts. “But foreign interference and sophisticated voter suppression threatens our ability to freely elect our leaders. If we start early and work together, we will ensure that every American voter’s voice is heard and that Democrats up and down the ballot win.”

Upon inquiry, Towns County Elections Supervisor Tonya Nichols recently informed FYN that the county precinct receives emails from the Fair Fight Action Team, regularly stating their mission.

Towns County Democrats attend ‘Big Blue BBQ’ in Rabun County

News, Politics

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Six local residents represented Towns County at the Rabun County Democrats’ Big Blue Barbeque in Clayton, Georgia, on Saturday, June 29.

Towns County Democratic Party Chair Charlotte Sleczkowski and husband Bob, Towns County Party Treasurer Karen Powell and husband Jim, all of Hiawassee, and David and Vickie Plunkett of Young Harris joined some 175 Democrats from seven north Georgia counties at the second annual event held at Moonrise Distillery.

“Featured speakers were Daniel Blackman, the first black person elected to office in Forsyth County, who announced at the event that he will be running for a seat in 2020 on the Georgia Public Service Commission, and Sarah Riggs Amico, who said she is ‘giving serious consideration’ to challenging Georgia’s junior senator, David Perdue, whose U.S. Senate seat is up for election in 2020,” Vickie Plunkett said. “Riggs Amico was the Democratic nominee for Georgia lieutenant governor in 2018.

“Both Blackman and Amico stressed to their fellow Democrats the importance of ensuring ‘nothing goes unchallenged’ by fielding candidates for every state, local, and congressional office (Georgia’s 14 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and one seat in the U.S. Senate) on the ballot in 2020. Blackman urged voters not to get comfortable or complacent or to settle for mediocrity or simplicity from candidates.  Amico also cautioned to leave nothing unsaid, urging north Georgia activists to stress values and voice the conscience of the country.”

Towns County Democrats meet on the second Thursday of each month at the Towns County Civic Center, 67 Lakeview Circle, in Hiawassee.  The meeting is open to the public.

The next meeting on Aug. 8 will feature Cliff Bradshaw, Towns County Sole Commissioner, as the guest speaker, and will begin with a potluck dinner at 6 p.m. followed by the business meeting at 6:30 p.m.  Drinks and dinnerware will be provided.

Commissioner Bradshaw meets with Towns County Democratic Party

News, Politics
Towns County Democratic Party

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw told local Democrats last week that one of the biggest challenges facing him as commissioner is managing the county’s expected growth. “We are going to expand, and we need to be involved with that growth because we want it to be controlled growth,” Bradshaw told the Democratic Party Aug. 8 at the Towns County Civic Center.  The commissioner cited an increase in tourism tax dollars from $37 million to $41 million in the past three years as evidence of a growing local economy.  “The only way we are going to grow the economy here is more population, but we also have to consider how much do we want to grow and how,” Bradshaw added.

Bradshaw responded to questions and spoke to the Democrats for almost an hour about accomplishments during his first three years in office as well as future goals.  Clearly enthusiastic about his time in office, Bradshaw told the Democrats, “I love doing this job.  I work every day for the people, and I don’t know how they vote and I don’t care.  My job is to be the very best commissioner I can be for Towns County.  My job is to protect our mountaintops, to keep the county clean, and to keep our water clean.”

Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw

Towns County Democratic Party Chairwoman Charlotte Sleczkowski said that she appreciated Bradshaw taking the time to share his vision for the county with the group. “We want to work alongside Commissioner Bradshaw as he strives to make Towns County a great place to live and work,” Sleczkowski said.  “Our mutual goals for the county have no political distinction.”

A challenge related to growth is providing a skilled labor force to supply the needs of businesses, beyond the restaurant and service industry, that want to locate here, Bradshaw explained.  Additional traffic comes with growth, and Bradshaw stated he will be meeting with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and the state transportation director later this month regarding installing a left-turn lane on State Route 76 West, near Papa’s Pizza.

Among the accomplishments of his first term Bradshaw listed:

  • Remodeling the old county recreation center gym with new lighting, roofing, painting, and flooring, making it pickleball friendly.
  • Building a new fire station on Highway 66 in Young Harris and the addition of a helicopter landing pad there to provide a second site for medical evacuations.  He also noted the fire station will contribute to lower home insurance rates for people in that part of the county.
  • Replacing county road equipment, particularly old dump trucks with high repair bills.
  • Adding a recycling station for electronics (cell phones, TVs, printers, computers, etc.) at the county dump.
  • Maintaining the $3.1 million financial reserve which he inherited from the previous commissioner.  Any funding above that amount will be used to improve the county, Bradshaw said.
  • The county’s 2018 audit report revealed general revenue increases of more than $600,000 as a result of efficiency changes Bradshaw said that he has instituted, with no increase in taxes since 2007.
  • Instituting a veterans’ program that formally recognizes any veteran who has grown up in Towns County, graduated from the county high school, or who has moved into the county.  The program is carried out in cooperation with the local VFW chapter and includes a suicide hotline.

Bradshaw cited as a primary goal reclaiming for the county the one percent special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) which expires for county schools in 2020.  “We want to get it for the county to remodel the courthouse.  It’s time,” the commissioner said.  Another fire station near the Emergency Management Services building is an additional future goal.

Bradshaw also plans to renegotiate the county medical air flightcontract, which he emphasized covers every full-time homeowner in Towns County, with the county covering the fee.  Bradshaw said the current contract has a cap on the price so the county doesn’t pay more if the airlift service flies out more people than in the previous year.  The commissioner wants the new contract to provide a lower cost if the service flies out fewer people than in the previous year.

Towns County Democrats will meet again on Sept. 20 at the Towns County Civic Center.  A potluck dinner will begin at 6 p.m. followed by the business meeting at 6:30. Meetings are open to the public.

Northeast Georgia Statewide and Congressional Democratic candidate forum announced

Announcements, Politics
Towns County Democrats

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. –  Democratic candidates from across the state will gather at Meeks Park in Blairsville on Saturday, May 5, from noon to 3 p.m.

All statewide Democratic candidates and the two 9th Congressional District candidates have been invited.

To date, 11 statewide candidates and the 9th Congressional District candidates have confirmed they will personally participate.

The forum will take place at Pavilion 3 at 490 Meeks Park Road, Blairsville, Georgia.

For more information, contact Mary Mahoney at 706-487-9300 or email [email protected]

 

 

 

Towns County Democratic Party discusses by-laws and scholarships

News, Politics

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Democratic Party met Feb. 14 to discuss their political by-laws and brainstorm ideas to raise college scholarship funds for graduating Towns County students. Last year, the group awarded two graduating seniors $500 each to apply toward tuition at Young Harris College. The group plans to add North Georgia Technical College as an option this year.

Charlotte Sleczkowski

Towns County Democratic Chair Charlotte Sleczkowski

New officers were recently elected, including Democratic Chair Charlotte Sleczkowski, Secretary Terrylynne Marshall, and Treasurer Karen Powell. Past Chair Mary Mahoney attended the meeting along with three other members, two of whom were first-time attendees, recently relocating to the area from Colorado.

The Democrats discussed ways to grow the local party by encouraging a younger generation to participate, and the group plans to motivate Democratic candidates to run for county offices in the upcoming election.

A “cover-to-cover” reading of the by-laws is scheduled to take place at the April meeting, held at the Towns County Civic Center. Next month’s meeting is set for March 14 in Union County at the Unity Church of Blairsville. A potluck dinner will be held at 5:30 p.m. followed by the session at 6 p.m.

 

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