This is the year for the biennial reorganization of the McMinn County Democratic Party.

It will happen on Aug. 28 at 11 a.m., located at the senior center in Athens, and Democrats will elect their local district representatives and officers for the next two years.

My Republican friends tease me and say all the Democrats need for a meeting is a closet. Meaning we are in the minority here in McMinn County. I have a cousin that will text me periodically about something dumb he thinks the Democrats have done and try to get a rise out of me, all in good fun because I give it back to him as well.

I don’t believe we are as small as the voting here says we are. We just are not getting out and voting, for whatever reasons — we just aren’t. When we meet on Aug. 28 at 11 a.m. in the senior center in Athens, we will be voting in both officers and representatives for what is called the executive committee.

I have been attending the monthly Democratic meetings since 2006 and have seen the progress of our party over the years. When I first started attending Democratic meetings, they would last for 10 minutes and that would be it.

The two biggest things they did back then was have one big dinner for a fundraiser and, when it was an election year, sell yard signs to those who wanted them.

Since the average age of the local Democrat in McMinn County is over 60, most people’s online skills were non-existent. They had heard of Facebook, but didn’t know exactly what it did, and none of them had emails.

Changes were going on but they did what they had always done in the past.

Then, two years ago at the last reorganization, things changed. We voted in a whole new set of people. We knew how to use the internet and Facebook and Twitter and were computer literate. We started sending out emails to the people that attended our meetings and set up our own Facebook page to get our messages out to other Democrats.

We learned what phone banking is and used that and a program called Votebuilder to maintain contact with Democratic voters and bought a program called Nationbuilder to advertise our calendar of events and keep track of political information for the voters.

We still did phone calls and sent out postcards, as well as the dinners and yard signs, but we added the online components to the tools of the party as well.

Our Democratic Party in McMinn County has made tremendous strides in the past two years and will build on that progress for the next two years with the people that you elect if you should decide to come and participate.

The goals of the party were stressed by our chair of the state Democratic Party of Tennessee: “All actions and activities of the party should focus on growth and efforts to promote the ideals, principles and values of the Democratic Party and to aid in the election of Democrats and Democratic nominees at every level of public office.”

So we have gotten ourselves organized, have a wonderful building for our headquarters (9 Kilgore St., Athens) and now we are developing a strong base of supporters, both young and old, to make positive changes in our McMinn County.

We may be few in number, but we know our message is both a healthy and powerful one that will resonate for years to come. The Democratic Party will be making changes over the next few years that will change this country and our county for the better and we would like to share that progress with you.

Come join us and help us grow and, like the late John Lewis said, make “good trouble.”

Bill Freeman is a retired mental health counselor and a progressive Democrat in McMinn County. He can be reached at calabash52@gmail.com

Bill Freeman is a retired mental health counselor and a progressive Democrat in McMinn County. He can be reached at calabash52@gmail.com

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