Yadkin County Democrats have a new face representing them this year. Larry Vestal stepped up the chair of the Yadkin County Democratic Party after Hassel Brown stepped down.
“In March Hassel decided to retire as chair,” Vestal said. “He told us that he had turned 80 years old and he thought it was time for him to give it up.”
With the news of Brown’s resignation, Vestal began considering stepping into the position. Vestal recently lost a race for reelection to the Yadkin County School Board and was looking for a new challenge.
“After Hassel decided to give it up I decided that it would be a good challenge for me,” Vestal said. “I think the Democrats in Yadkin County have been used to losing a lot of elections and…they almost tend to give up. We can’t give up; I think it’s healthy to have a two-party system in a county. It keeps both parties on their toes.”
The Democrats are a relatively small group in Yadkin County with only 21 percent of registered voters in the county registered as Democrat.
Vestal himself was once a registered Republican and so he understands the Democratic Party faces when it comes to the voter balance in the county. Vestal said that he always considered himself a moderate Republican and that he didn’t feel welcome in his party after a while.
“I switched my registration in 1979 and I just saw the Republican Party trying to purge the moderates out of the party and I decided that I didn’t like that,” Vestal said. “It’s just not good for one party to be that dominant in an area, Republican or Democrat, because I think it brings on complacency.”
Vestal said that he plans to improve the county party by hosting more meetings that are focused on business matters rather than socializing and also by getting information to the party members more quickly by instituting a email list.
“I’ve already started building an email list so when I learn things that Democrats in Yadkin County might want to know then I can send it to them in a hurry,” Vestal said. “By the time we do a letter and mail it out it’s expensive and the email allows us to get information out in a hurry and at no cost.”
Vestal said that the party is also looking into their involvement with social media. He says that he believes the party has to become more technologically savvy in order to appeal to the younger generation voters.
“We’re looking into the possibility of creating a Facebook group,” Vestal said, “Both parties have got to appeal to the younger voters. Facebook and social media is the way to do it. Social networking is the only way to communicate with the younger voters.”
Vestal said that he believes that reaching out to the new and younger voters will help to increase the numbers of the county’s party. He says that many younger voters in the area were raised Republican and that they may not necessarily agree with the party’s views.
“I think if we reach out to the younger voters we’re going to get some people like myself that were reared in a Republican family that might want to register as a Democrat,” Vestal said. “I think that there’s a possibility of getting some younger voters that way.”
Another goal for Vestal is to make the party more visible. He says that he’s seen the party have events with very little participation and he would like to see the members of the county party get more excited this election year.
“It seems like people are starting to get excited again because they see that we’re trying to get some things done,” Vestal said. “What’s helped that is that we have two Yadkin County residents that are running on the Democratic Party ticket.”
Vestal says that he’s already held three monthly meetings since taking his spot as chair that each meeting had nearly 30 people in attendance, a turnout he says is a big improvement for the party.
The next big event for the Yadkin County Democratic Party will be its fall fundraiser. This event is scheduled for September 22 at the Moose Lodge in Yadkinville.
“We plan to invite both of our local Democratic candidates and we are also planning to invite our Democratic candidate from Forsyth County who’s running for our senate district and Elisabeth Motsinger, our congress candidate,” Vestal said.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.