Overlooking Rivers Street from the Roess Dining Hall on the campus of Appalachian State University, the Watauga County Democratic Party hosted a Fall Rally on Saturday, Oct. 5.

Local and state officials were in attendance to campaign for upcoming elections, and in Ray Russell’s case, officially announce running for re-election.

ASU catered a taco bar for the event, and the Sisters of Perpetual Sarcasm provided a parody of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which had the attendees laughing in their seats. The ASU College Dems, a club from ASU, was also in attendance and announced that they had registered 2,600 students to vote since move in weekend.

Five members of Watauga County’s Democratic Party were inducted into the Hall of Fame: Rebecca H. Saunders, Larry Gene Keeter, John and Faye Cooper, and Judy Frances Hunt.

Campaigning state officials included Jen Mangrum for the superintendent of public instruction and Chaz Beasley for the position of lieutenant governor. Maddy Koch spoke on behalf of her mother, Jeanne Supin, who is running for Congress. These offices will be filled in November 2020 with the national election.

Russell is a current state representative of Ashe and Watauga counties, District 93, who is running for re-election in 2020.

In his speech, Russell praised the ASU College Dems for the work the club does on campus and also mentioned his plan of action to take the majority from the Republican Party, in the state legislature in 2020.

“We’re not going to change minds on the top level,” said Russell. “We have to make it local issues with real people. That’s how we win this election.”

The rally headliner and keynote speaker was N.C. Sen. Jeff Jackson from Mecklenburg County.

Looking ahead to the November 2020 election, Jackson said that he would “exclusively campaign on honesty and decency.”

“Things have reached a depth that you think someone who’s trying to be overtly decent is just going to be outgunned by the process. But I think people are waiting for that message — I think that message resonates, so that’s what I’m going to focus on,” Jackson said. “And then we talk about health care, and then we talk about education.”

Topics of note at the rally included education, health care, gerrymandering, climate change and putting families before corporations.

Chaz Beasley, a current representative for District 92 and candidate for lieutenant governor in the 2020 election, said, “I believe that we have to focus more on the everyday people ... that actually make the state go, and not just focus on the people who have already got what they need.”

Election day for the municipal election is Nov. 5. To learn more about candidates for local elections, follow Watauga Democrat coverage in the coming weeks.

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