Democrats from across the county gathered in the Grayson County Courthouse early Saturday morning for the party’s biennial convention. The event brought nearly 50 Democrats out to decide who would represent the county during the state convention in Fort Worth this June.
Despite representing a predominantly Republican county, Grayson County Democratic Party Chairman Glenn Melancon said he feels that a blue wave is starting to take hold in North Texas, and Grayson County can be a part of that. Through events like the convention, Melancon said he hopes to bolster the support of Democratic voters in the area leading into November state races.
“It (the convention) lets people know their vote matters,” he said. “If you look at Alabama, Virginia and Pennsylvania, they were all conservative areas that voted Democrat.”
Melancon attributed the changes in the predominantly conservative areas to frustration at the policies of President Donald Trump. Locally, he noted there was a stronger-than-average turnout for the primaries earlier this month.
“When Donald Trump was elected, he asked ‘What do we have to lose,’” Melancon said. “I think people now see that is Medicare, social security and veterans’ benefits.”
The Democratic convention coincided with the Republican convention, which took place just down the hall in the courthouse. Despite having opposing political views, Melancon said there was no animosity, and many on the other side of the hall were personal friends.
“We get along well with the people on the other side and many are friends,” he said with a chuckle. “We are all the same team — team USA.”
From those gathered, party organizers chose 23 delegates that will represent the county in June when Democrats meet for the state convention. From there, representatives will build a state platform for the party.
In addition to selecting the delegates, Democrats chose nine platform items they would like to see added to the state platform. Among those were two related to gun control. While many of the items were prepared in advance, Tony Beaverson added an item asking that police be banned from selling retired service weapons and those confiscated.
“Our law enforcement doesn’t need to put guns back into the community,” he said, in support of the item.
Other concepts and items that will be taken forward to the state convention include support for bipartisan districting, universal basic income, paper ballots, Medicare for all and opposition to standardized testing. The proposed issues also include a measure to ensure that prisons have adequate air conditioning for inmates.
“There are a number of prisoners who are dying because of a lack of basic care,” Melancon said.
Among those who were in attendance was Rajenda Wagle, who was attending for the second time. Previously, he said he attended the state convention while serving as a delegate for Bernie Sanders.
“I’ve been living in Grayson County for about nine years,” he said. “(I am) obviously an immigrant, but a naturalized American citizen.”
With the state convention coming up, Wagle said he wanted to speak on the issues of gun violence and gun control in America.