by Bob Gatty.
A new leadership team that is dedicated to building a stronger HCDP, including attracting effective, qualified candidates for every available elected office, is now in place following the 2018 Precinct Reorganization and Convention event held March 24.
Elected as HCDP’s new chair was Don Kohn, of Conway, who for the past two years has served as HCDP’s volunteer coordinator and is credited with dramatically expanding the Party’s corps of volunteer activists. He succeeds Bennie Swans, who has just completed a two-year term.
Kohn was co-chair of HCDP’s Public Relations Committee and oversaw its successful expansion. He co-chaired HCDP’s Candidate Training Initiative and was a member of HCDP’s Precinct Reorganization Event Committee.
Kohn’s goals included continuing to build HCDP’s volunteer corps, which is proving to be invaluable as the Party prepares for the coming 2018 elections. He plans to be “laser focused” on educating Horry County voters and getting them registered and to the polls, “while protecting their right to do so.”
Recruiting and supporting the best candidates for every office is a major priority, Kohn said. “Never again should there be a void on the ballot where a qualified Democratic candidate should be,” he declared.
During the convention, a number of awards were presented, including to Swans for his service as Party Chair for the past two years. Swans emphasized his work in forging a strong presence for the Party in Horry County and working to combat “all of those ‘isms’ that affect our community,” such as racism and sexism.
Other party officers elected during the Convention were:
First Vice Chair – Barbara Hake (re-elected)
Second Vice Chair – Verlene Dewitt
Third Vice Chair – Tess Emiroglu (re-elected)
State Executive Committee Member – Cedric Blain-Spain (re-elected)
State Executive Committee Member – Doris Potter-Hickman
Alternative Executive Committee Member – Ryan Thompson
Alternative Executive Committee Member – Irish Ann Eickhoff
The Convention was held the afternoon of March 24 following morning meetings of Horry County’s precincts, where officers were elected, delegates for the afternoon convention selected, and resolutions for the State Convention in Columbia, April 21 were developed. The day-long event, which also included remarks from state, county and local Democratic candidates during lunch, was held at the Academy of Technology and Academics.
Kohn’s focus on attracting and fielding a complete slate of candidates echoed remarks by State Democratic Chair Trav Robertson, who stressed the importance of Horry County in the November 6 election.
Robertson Blasts Republicans
In a fiery luncheon speech, Robertson thanked young people for fighting so hard for stronger gun legislation and for steps to make our schools and communities safe. Republicans, he said, are responsible for obstructing such legislation, at both the state and national levels.
“The Republicans just don’t believe that South Carolinians believe that people have a right to have access to affordable health care,” he declared. “It is one set of rules for them and another set of rules for us. That’s their legacy to you.”
Robertson also said South Carolina Republican lawmakers “don’t think we can read a utility bill,” referring to the scandal involving huge bonuses paid to utility company executives at the expense of the ratepayers – all because the GOP made it possible.
“Horry County is an extremely critical part of the statewide race, and we can’t win unless we stop fighting with each other and organize Horry County,” he declared. Later, during the convention, Robertson urged HCDP to be certain that the party has a candidate for every available seat.
“Let’s find young women, young people, to run,” he said. “We should have a candidate for every single seat. The numbers are on our side.”
During the luncheon, candidates for state, county and local offices addressed their fellow Democrats. They included Congressional candidates Mal Hyman, Robert Williams, Dr. Bruce Fisher, and Bill Hopkins; candidate for governor Phil Noble, County Councilman Harold Phillips, who is seeking re-election, and candidates for Horry County Board of Education, incumbent Janet P. Graham, District 7 and Shakedra Jenerette, District 10. Also speaking were representatives for Rep. James Smith and Marguerite Willis, both candidates for governor, as well as for Robin Gause, candidate for SC House District 106, and Horry County School Board candidate Micah Gore, District 1.
Hyman, Williams, Fisher and Hopkins all are seeking the Democratic nomination to oppose Republican Rep. Tom Rice in the November 6 general election.
Hyman said his goal is to help create jobs, improve healthcare, protect Social Security and the environment. “Climate change is a greater threat to national security than is terrorism,” he said.
Williams, a 20-year Army veteran and current member of the state legislature, promised to fight for South Carolina against the devastating Republican-supported policies of the Trump administration. “Our president is not the best,” he said. “Look at what’s going on in our nation.”
Fisher, who served in Vietnam, said “Republicans have lost their sense of morality entirely” as they continue to support Trump and his policies. He stressed that he is “passionate” about health care, “which should be considered a right – not a commodity to be bought and sold.” Fisher said he supports Medicare for all.
Hopkins, an attorney who represents “the little people,” promised to represent the average person in Congress. “Your Congressman, Tom Rice, is a multi-millionaire and a tool of the energy industry,” he declared.
Gubernatorial candidate Noble said, “Today we have a broken and corrupt government.” He cited the current utility scandal and said the GOP-controlled state legislature “is a bought and paid for wholly-owned subsidiary of the utility companies.”
Dick Elliott Would be Proud
Rick Elliott, son of the late Sen. Dick Elliott, said his father would have been proud of the convention turnout, which included nearly 150 attendees, and the enthusiasm and determination expressed by delegates and guests.
“Everybody deserves health care and it needs to be affordable,” he declared. “Democrats believe in affordable health care.”
“I don’t know anybody in this room who likes to have their teeth drilled on,” Elliott added, “and we don’t want our oceans to be drilled on either.”
Elliott commended students for taking up the cause for sensible gun legislation. “Democrats believe in safer schools,” he declared.
Elliott also put in a plug for the Sen. Dick Elliott Memorial Golf Tournament sponsored by HCDP, scheduled for June 30 at the Wild Wing Golf Club near Conway. He urged all Democrats to participate in the tournament, take advantage of numerous sponsorship opportunities, and to attend the post-tournament awards banquet.