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P O Box 1901, Marion, NC.

Call: 828-559-9919

The McDowell County Democratic Party Welcomes You!

Our nation is in crisis.  Our people are sick and dying. Unemployment rates are staggeringly high. Far too many Americans do not know where their next meal is coming from.  Business and industry have been given a green light to ignore decades of environmental regulation, and are free to poison our air, water and soil. And these disasters are only the tip of the iceberg.

The US House, led by a Democratic majority has proposed over 500 pieces of legislation to address  these issues and more.  Every piece of legislation they have proposed is blocked by a Republican majority in the US Senate and a Republican President whose agenda strongly favors the rich and powerful over the rest of us. 

The politics of divisiveness has used the old issues of racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia to inflame passions in hopes of winning votes.  Dehumanization of others is a dangerous game, and it is being played by our current President and those who support him in hopes of winning re-election.

This is not America.  We want our country back, and we are pledged to return it to sane governance with a sense of inclusion and liberty and justice for all our people.

Elections have consequences.  We have felt the consequences of 2016 for four years now.

In 2018, we took the first steps to recovery by electing a Democratic majority to the US House, and electing enough Democrats to the NC State Legislature to take away the veto-proof majority held by a power hungry Republican legislature. Now, we have the opportunity to return our nation to WE THE PEOPLE, instead of “we the rich and privileged.” 

Liberty and justice for all… for all… WE the people...

The McDowell County Democratic Party Welcomes You!

Who Are We?

We are your neighbors.  We are doctors, factory workers, retail employees, social service workers, pastors, musicians, teachers, poets, cooks, servers, stay at home moms, mechanics, farmers, athletes, retirees, students still pursuing our education.  Yes. We come from every walk of life.  We are brave, curious, and compassionate thinkers and doers. We are diverse in ethnicity, history and life experience. 

We care about others.  We care about equal opportunity for all people, and about achieving a fair and just society that allows everyone equal access to healthcare.  

We value education.  We know that a great education coupled with common sense and strong life values will build a great future for our children and grandchildren.

We value the land, water and air that sustain life.  We believe that protecting the health of our natural resources is a necessary and vital part of our quality of life and the lives of future generations.

We value freedom.  And we acknowledge that with each freedom comes an equal responsibility to not abuse those freedoms. 

We believe in protection of the social safety net that protects and sustains the most vulnerable in our society.  Everyone deserves to live in dignity and peace.

We need not think alike.  We realize that our differences make us stronger. We learn from one another.

We are your local Democratic Party. With open arms, we welcome you. Bring your hopes, your doubts, your questions, your energy and your desire help create a better world for ALL.

Join us on this extraordinary adventure. Think Big and Act Local.

McDowell County Democratic Party Leadership

The McDowell County Democratic Party has new ideas from a new generation of leaders.  

When this group gathers, there is energy in the room.  And it translates into excitement and hope.

McDowell County Democratic Party Leadership

County Chairperson: Leighann Briggs Ayers

Leighann is a 1997 graduate of McDowell High School. She has an Associates Degree from Western Piedmont Community College in Criminal Justice, Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice from Lees-McRae, and a Masters Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Montreat College.

Treasurer: Jennifer Howerth

Born and raised in WNC. Graduated McDowell High School in 1999. Attended McDowell Tech and AB Tech majoring in Accounting. Employed at Marion Credit Co. since 2011.  She has one son, Jayden, who attends West McDowell Middle School.

First Vice Chairperson: Melody Pajak

Born in Kansas and raised in Oklahoma, Melody has lived in McDowell County for 11 years. She is a retired Minister in the United Church of Christ. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Religion from Oklahoma City University, and a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School. She is a Progressive Democrat that fights for the rights of the poor, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and Immigrants. 

Second Vice Chairperson: Lonnie Bewernitz

Born and raised in Michigan, Lonnie and his wife have lived in Old Fort for 16 years.  He has a Liberal Arts degree from Central Michigan University and an MBA in Finance from Michigan State University.  Lonnie is a practicing CFO Consultant and CPA, and actively supports his community by serving on the Board of Directors for On Track Financial Counselling Services, Old Fort Chamber of Commerce and participating in the McDowell county Voter Engagement and Education Committee.  

He believes in a government by the People and for the People and will fight to return our government to one that is once more a democracy, where everyone has access to voting, we invest in our schools, provide universal health care, ensure income equality, and a progressive program to save the environment.  Lonnie and his wife are active beekeepers on their Hugging Tree Farm.

Third Vice Chairperson: Buz Buzogany

Buzogany received his bachelor’s degree in Speech Education and a masters in Radio, Television & Film from Bowling Green State University in Ohio.  From 2003 until his retirement in 2019, Buz was the partner/founder of Buzogany Associates, LLC, a firm specializing in strategic planning, sales development and board governance for 40+ not-for-profit associations throughout the U.S.  Prior to that, Buz had a 15+ year career in television and advertising including serving as station manager for WLOS-TV, creating the Fox Kid’s Club nationally, and as creative director for Manheim Advertising.

Buzogany has been a life-long supporter of Democratic candidates and the party for which they stand. He and his wife Beth have been residents in Nebo, NC, since 2009.

Secretary: Heather Haynes

Heather is a native of McDowell County. She is a graduate of Appalachian State University.  She has been an elementary school educator for fifteen years.  This is her first year serving on the Executive Committee of the McDowell County Democratic Party.

McDowell County Young Democrats: Ashley Junkins

Think Big. Act Local.

Voter Information.

Registering to Vote

Don't Delay - Register to vote today!

To download and print a Voter Registration form click here: Voter Registration Application.  Your deadline for registration is Friday, October 9, 2020.  If you had rather register in person, you may go by the McDowell County Board of Elections at the corner of US 221 and 226 South (at the southern end of the Marion bypass) during their regular working hours.  

Here are some important details regarding the 2020 election:

  • Election day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
  • The deadline to register online to vote is Friday, October 9, 2020.
  • The deadline for registering by mail to vote is (postmarked by) Friday, October 9, 2020.
  • The deadline to register in person to vote is Friday, October 9, 2020. After the regular voter registration deadline of Friday, October 9, 2020, you can register and vote in person at one-stop sites during the early voting period, which runs from Thursday, October 15, 2020 to Saturday, October 31, 2020. This process is known as same-day registration. Same-day registrants must attest to their eligibility and provide proof of residence. Within two business days, the county board of elections will review the registration and the registrant's address. Your vote will be counted unless the county board of elections determines that you are not qualified to vote.
  • The deadline to request a ballot by mail is (received by) Tuesday, October 27, 2020.
  • The early voting period runs from Thursday, October 15, 2020 to Saturday, October 31, 2020, but dates and hours may vary based on where you live.

Absentee Voting

Because of the difficulties presented by Covid-19, some voters will prefer to request an absentee ballot, and then return it either by mail, or to the local Board of Elections office.  

If you choose to vote by mail (absentee ballot), below is a link to a form you must fill out and submit to the local McDowell County Board of Elections PO BOX 1509MARION NC28752-1509 before October 27, 2020.  

Because of anticipated postal service delays, we heartily recommend that you request your mail-in ballot as early as possible, and return it by hand to the Board of Elections during early voting.

If you have additional questions, please contact our local Board of Elections at 828-659-0834.

Here is a link to an absentee mail in ballot request form:

Find out more details about the electoral districts that McDowell County is a part of,
and meet the candidates for who are counting on your support in the 2020 election.

Your Local Representatives - McDowell County

McDowell County has three representative bodies: Marion City Council governs the area within the Marion city limits. The Old Fort Board of Aldermen govern the town of Old Fort.  And the McDowell Board of County Commissioners governs the area outside the city limits of Marion and Old Fort.

Old Fort Town Government

The Old Fort Town Government is run by Aldermen and Mayor.

Mayor Rickey Hensley - 828-668-1014

Alderman Andrew Carlton - 828-803-8860

Alderman Jamie Grindstaff - 828-668-4401

Alderman Jerome Effler - 304-841-8705

Alderman Melvin Lytle Jr - 828-317-1925

Alderman Wayne Stafford -828-226-7883

Police Chief Melvin Lytle Jr - 828-317-1925


Marion City Council

The City of Marion operates under the Council-Manager form of government. The elected City Council hires a City Manager to manage the day-to-day operations of the City government.

The Mayor and all five members of the City Council are elected at-large on a non-patisan basis by the citizens of Marion for four year staggered terms.

Steve Little has served as Mayor of Marion since 2009, and served on City Council from 1985 to 2009.

Billy Martin is the Mayor Pro Tem and has served on City Council since 1995.

Woody Ayers has served on City Council since 2017.

Ann Harkey has served on City Council since 2017.

Juanita Doggett has served on City Council since 2009.

Don Ramsey has served on City Council since 2011.


McDowell County Commissioners

The McDowell County Commissioners are comprised of the following elected individuals:

Name Email
David N. Walker
Barry McPeters
Tony G. Brown
Matthew Crawford
Lynn Greene



District 85, NC House of Representatives

McDowell County is part of the 85th District of the NC House of Representatives.

Marion resident, Ted Remington is our candidate for this office.  

(Picture, short bio and link to website for Ted)

NC State Senate, District 47

McDowell County is part of the 47th Senate District of North Carolina.  After the election of 2011, the district was heavily gerrymandered to support Republican candidates.  After several court battles, the district has been redrawn, but still carefully carves out what Republicans consider a "safe space." The current holder of this office was heavily involved in drawing districts, including his own. 

Our candidate for NC Senate seat 47 is David Wheeler of Spruce Pine

The 11th US Congressional District of NC

 McDowell County sits on the eastern edge of the 11th Congressional District of North Carolina. 

Our district is currently without representation because of the abrupt departure of the previously elected Republican representative.  We plan to fix that.

Until congressional maps were drawn by a Republican state legislature in 2011, the district was highly competitive.  Under court order and constant legal battles, the district was redrawn, each as bad as the one drawn in 2011.  Finally, in November 2019, new congressional districts were drawn for the entire state.  After review by NC Judges in December of 2019, the current district was ordered drawn for the 2020 election.  The new map returns Asheville to the 11th district, but still is heavily gerrymandered.  

For the 2020 election, in Moe Davis, we have a GREAT candidate and believe our chances of returning this district to the Democratic side of the US House are excellent.  

MOE DAVIS  Candidate for the 11th US Congressional District of North Carolina

(add picture, short bio and link to his website)

United States Senate

Each state in the US is represented by two Senators, regardless of population.  Those senators are elected to 6 year terms. One of the seats is up for election in 2020, the other in 2022.

Our US Senate Candidate, Cal Cunningham, has the background and integrity to make him one of the best Senators in the nation upon election.  

Meet Cal Cunningham

Growing up in the small town of Lexington, Cal learned what it meant to serve from the church youth group leaders who took him on service projects in Appalachia. Working on the family brickyard, Cal learned the value of hard work and the dignity that comes with a job. At the foot of his father, a small town lawyer who took on his neighbors’ causes as his own, Cal learned that, oftentimes, justice requires a fight. And at Fort Bragg and abroad, the paratroopers, Reservists and special operators Cal served with in the Army taught Cal a deeper form of patriotism and honor.

These values are North Carolina values, and they are what will guide Cal as North Carolina’s next U.S. Senator, where he’s committed to putting the seat back to work for the people of the state he loves and has called home his entire life. 

“North Carolinians are loyal, hardworking, decent and proudly independent people, and we expect the same from our U.S. Senator.” —Cal Cunningham  

When Cal joined the Army Reserve, he took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Back then, he never imagined that one of the greatest threats to our country’s future would be Washington itself. 

Cal is running for U.S. Senate in North Carolina to fulfill that oath—by taking on the corruption in Washington that is standing in the way of progress on the most important issues of our time. 

MCDP Events

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Latest Issues

Time For Change

North Carolina has long been identified as a beautiful, forward thinking, progressive state. But under Republican leadership, our reputation has been severely tarnished and our beauty is being threatened with environmental policies that border on the absurd. Enough is enough. It is time to take our state back.

We all want our children to have the best education possible. Under Republican leadership, public education is being assaulted at every turn.  Per pupil spending has been cut. Our teachers are paid less than almost every other state in the nation.  Scholarships encouraging the brightest and best of our students to become teachers have been eliminated. State funding is being redirected to private schools. And these private schools are not subjected to the same regulation and interference our legislature has mandated over our public schools.

"Fast-track" approval is being given to the fracking industry. Environmental regulations protecting our water, air and land have been weakened or outright eliminated. Polluters have been given a "slap on the wrist" and a wink when dumping coal ash and chemicals into our rivers and lakes.

Under Republican leadership, budgets are being balanced on the backs of those least able to afford it as new taxes are appearing on everything from mechanical services, to food, to cell phone services and entertainment. 

In a blind effort to fight anything introduced by President Obama, NC Republicans refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. This has hurt the most vulnerable among us, and has proven to be the death of too many of our state's rural hospitals and clinics.

In a state where manufacturing has suffered steep declines, especially in rural areas, families have lost good paying jobs. Families, suddenly unable to support themselves have relied upon support of the Social Services system until new work could be found. And often any new jobs are part-time and pay minimum wage. NC Republicans have hurt these families by reducing the amount of time allowed to draw unemployment while seeking work, and cutting benefits designed to help these families survive. Ralph Hise, has even introduced a bill to stop families from receiving food stamps if they are receiving other forms of assistance. 

And they do not want their hold on power to be disturbed.  Since gaining majority in both the NC House and Senate, they have:
  1. Unlawfully gerrymandered districts to make certain they are Republican controlled.
  2. Unlawfully passed voting restrictions designed to keep minorities, college students and poor people from voting.  
  3. Unlawfully changed the composition of local election boards to give themselves control.
  4. In an effort to stop losing court battles over voting restrictions, they have changed the Governor's ability to appoint judges, and reduced the number of them to maintain a Republican majority on the court.
  5. Passed a law that takes away the Governor's and the State Attorney General's rights to challenge in court over any laws passed by the legislature.
  6. In cities like Asheville, who elect representatives on an "at large" basis, the NC Legislature is requiring them to establish districts of the LEGISLATURES' design (not local design) for future elections.  Once again, gerrymandering those districts for Republican control.
We have better ideas. We can have a great educational system that can prepare our children and grandchildren for every challenge the future may throw at them. We can do a much better job of being good stewards of this earth that God gave us, and can do it in ways that do not diminish our competitiveness in the world's economy. We can spend our tax dollars wisely for the good of ALL the people instead of simply for those who sponsor our politicians.  We can have a healthcare system that is affordable and cares for all equally - even the "least of these." And we can do it without breaking the bank. We can be compassionate to our neighbors and friends whose employers have closed their doors and left them searching for good, well paying jobs. We can see to it that every child does not have to worry about where their next meal is coming from. And we can guarantee the voting rights of ALL citizens, instead of seeking ways to keep those with whom we disagree from voting. 

We can do better. Elect us, and we WILL return NC to the values that make us strong. 

What About You?

Would you like to comment on the issues raised in this article? Leave your comments below, we can't wait to hear your views!

Contact Us

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Act Blue - Click here

P O Box 1901, Marion, NC.

Call: 828-559-9919