Think Big. Act Local.

Welcome Home!

Change is coming!  Can you feel it?


The 2020 election is a little more than a year away, and a fresh air is blowing. 


The "Blue Wave" of 2018 is on the precipice of becoming a cleansing tsunami in 2020.


The tired old solutions of the past 3 decades have not worked as promised, and people are ready for a new generation of fresh ideas to move our country forward.


In our own McDowell County, after 3 decades of one party rule, we lag far behind our neighbors in education, income, employment, housing, and positive health outcomes. We have an opioid addiction crisis with not enough resources allocated to mental health and other interventions.  Too many of our neighbors face food insecurity. One in four children in McDowell County do not know where their next meal is coming from, and too many children lack access to basic healthcare and nutrition. We have tried "their" ideas. It's time for some new ones.


Hereís the truth:  If you wanna see a change, YOUíRE gonna have to be the change!  We need your involvement in a grassroots, person to person effort to have our stance on local issues heard.  And we need YOUR help to elect candidates who will enact policies that promote the general welfare of EVERY citizen in McDowell County, not simply those who are favored by our current leadership. 


The time for change is NOW.  Letís make it happen.


The McDowell County Democratic Party welcomes you with open  arms. We don't have to agree on everything, because we know that the consequences of not coming together are dire. We can no longer sit on the sidelines and wait for someone else to make the changes needed to return our government to being one "of the people, by the people and for the people." 

We stand ready to work together to make these changes. We need your help, and we welcome you home.
Welcome Home!

Think Big. Act Local

We are brave, curious, and compassionate thinkers and doers. We are diverse in, ethnicity, history and spirituality, but aligned in our desire to make a difference for the good. We have a track record of standing on the side of love, justice, and peace. We have local roots and a history as self-motivated people: we think for ourselves and recognize that life experience influences our beliefs more than anything.

We need not think alike, it's our differences that make us stronger. We are people of different beliefs and backgrounds: people with a political background, people with none, people who believe in a God, people who don't, but people who care most about other people. We are a locally focused organization aimed at helping our non-profits and charities serve our people as well as organizing neighborhood clean ups and volunteer groups for the local food pantries.  

We are your local Democratic Party. We seek to welcome you: your whole self, with all your truths and your doubts, your worries and your hopes. Join us on this extraordinary adventure, and lets 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.

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.

Ted Remington


Michelle Price
A small business owner, mother of three children raised in the McDowell County public school system and married to Phillip Price. She lives with her family on a 20 acre farm in rural McDowell County where they operate their business. Michelle is an advocate for public education, healthcare for all and quality job opportunities. She understands the struggles of working families and is eager to help Improve peopleís lives in rural WNC.

Heather Haynes


Tony Bradley


McDowell County Young Democrats:  Emily Sampson

Think Big. Act Local.

Where You Fit.

More details about the electoral districts that McDowell County is a part of.

Your Local Representatives - McDowell County

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


Old Fort Town Government

Town Government is run by Aldermen and Mayor.

In the 20th century, the title of alderman was typically used for members of the legislature in those cities that used a mayor-council form of government

Mayor Rickey Hensley - 828-668-1014
Police Chief Melvin Lytle Jr - 828-317-1925

Alderman Andrew Carlton - 828-803-8860

Alderman Jamie Grindstaff - 828-668-4401

Alderman Jimmie Harris - 828-668-6050

Alderman Melvin Lytle Jr - 828-317-1925

Alderman Wayne Stafford -828-226-7883


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.

The City Council meets twice a month, on the first and third Tuesday of each month, except in July, when the City Council only meets on the third Tuesday of the month, and in December, when the City Council only meets on the first Tuesday of the month. Meetings are held at City Hall, located at 194 North Main Street. Meetings begin at 6:00 p.m. The public is always welcome to attend Council meetings and to speak on any issue they wish. Public comments are typically taken near the beginning of the meeting agenda. The public is encouraged to contact the City Manager at (828) 652-3551 to arrange to appear on the City Council agenda, but is not required to do so. Special meetings of City Council are held periodically and announced in accordance with State law. Meeting schedules are advertised on the City's website.

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.

Click here to see the City Council website, where you can also view past agendas, etc.


McDowell County Commissioners

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

Name Email
David N. Walker david.walker@mcdowellgov.com
Barry McPeters barry.mcpeters@mcdowellgov.com
Tony G. Brown tony.brown@mcdowellgov.com
Matthew Crawford matthew.crawford@mcdowellgov.com
Lynn Greene lynn.greene@mcdowellgov.com

The Commissioners hold one regularly scheduled meeting per month on the second Monday at 5 PM in the Commissioners Board Room of the County Administration Building located at 60 East Court Street
Marion, NC 28752
unless otherwise advertised. The public is invited to attend County Commissioner meetings and to speak on any issue they wish. Public comments are typically taken near the end of the meeting agenda. The public is encouraged to contact Cheryl Mitchell, Clerk to the Board, at (828) 652-7121 or at cheryl.mitchell@mcdowellgov.com to arrange to appear on the agenda, but is not required to do so.

Changes in meeting times and locations are duly advertised in the local media and on the bulletin board in the Administration Building.

Recordings of the monthly meetings can be seen on McD-TV on Charter Cable Channel 192, Morris Cable Channel 10 and online. To view past agendas, meeting minutes, and committees, click here.


How is it made up?

The North Carolina General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. State of North Carolina. The General Assembly drafts and legislates the state laws of North Carolina, also known as the General Statutes. The General Assembly is a bicameral legislature, consisting of the North Carolina House of Representatives (formerly the North Carolina House of Commons until 1868) and the North Carolina Senate. The House has 120 members, while the Senate has 50. There are no term limits for either chamber.

Legislators in both chambers serve two-year terms. Starting with the 2002 election, each legislator represents a single-member House or Senatorial district; prior to2002, some districts elected multiple legislators.

The General Assembly meets in the state capital of Raleigh (except for special occasions, when legislators might decide to hold a ceremonial session in some other city). It met in the Capitol building until 1963, when the legislature relocated to the new North Carolina State Legislative Building.

McDowell County is in NC House District 85and is currently represented by Josh Dobson. Representative Dobson's seat will be up for re-election in November 2018. Please see our candidate page to view the democratic candidate running against Representative Dobson!

The 120 members of the House are led by a Speaker, who holds powers similar to those of the Senate President pro-tem.

The qualifications to be a member of the House are found in the State Constitution: "Each Representative, at the time of his election, shall be a qualified voter of the State, and shall have resided in the district for which he is chosen for one year immediately preceding his election." Elsewhere, the constitution specifies that no elected official shall be under twenty-one years of age and that no elected officials may deny the existence of God, although this provision is not enforced.

Elections for all seats in both houses are held in each even-numbered year. If a seat should become vacant between elections, there are no by-elections or special elections. Rather, the local leaders of the political party of the person who vacated the seat nominate a replacement,to serve until the next election. The Governor, ordinarily, accepts the nomination, and appoints that person. Election terms begin on January 1.


Register to Vote

Where to Vote in McDowell County:
City of Marion- will vote at Marion Community Building
Town of Old Fort- will vote at Old Fort Library

Don't Delay - Register to vote today!

To download and print a Voter Registration form click here: Voter Registration Application.

How is it made up?

The North Carolina General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. State of North Carolina. The General Assembly drafts and legislates the state laws of North Carolina, also known as the General Statutes. The General Assembly is a bicameral legislature, consisting of the North Carolina House of Representatives (formerly the North Carolina House of Commons until 1868) and the North Carolina Senate. The House has 120 members, while the Senate has 50. There are no term limits for either chamber.

Legislators in both chambers serve two-year terms. Starting with the 2002 election, each legislator represents a single-member House or Senatorial district; prior to2002, some districts elected multiple legislators.

The General Assembly meets in the state capital of Raleigh (except for special occasions, when legislators might decide to hold a ceremonial session in some other city). It met in the Capitol building until 1963, when the legislature relocated to the new North Carolina State Legislative Building.

McDowell County is in NC Senate District 47 and is currently represented by Ralph Hise. Senator Hise's seat will be up for re-election in November 2018.  Please see our candidate page to view the democratic candidate running against Senator Hise!

The Senate has 50 members. Though its members represent districts that are larger than those of their colleagues in the House, its prerogatives and powers are no greater.

The President of the Senate is the Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina, but the Lt. Governor has very limited powers and only votes to break a tie. Before the office of Lt. Governor was created in 1868, the Senate was presided over by a "Speaker." After the 1988 election of James Carson Gardner, the first Republican Lt. Governor since Reconstruction, Democrats in control of the Senate shifted most of the power held by the Lt. Governor to the senator who is elected President Pro Tempore (or Pro-Tem). The President Pro Tempore appoints members to standing committees of the Senate, and holds great sway over bills.

The qualifications to be a Senator are found in the State Constitution: "Each Senator, at the time of his election, shall be not less than 25 years of age, shall be a qualified voter of the State, and shall have resided in the State as a citizen for two years and in the district for which he is chosen for one year immediately preceding his election."

According to the state constitution, the Senate is also the "Court for the Trial of Impeachments". The House of Representatives has the power to impeach state officials, after which the Senate holds a trial, as in the federal system. If the Governor or Lt. Governor is the official who has been impeached, the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court presides.

Elections for all seats in both houses are held in each even-numbered year. If a seat should become vacant between elections, there are no by-elections or special elections. Rather, the local leaders of the political party of the person who vacated the seat nominate a replacement,to serve until the next election. The Governor, ordinarily, accepts the nomination, and appoints that person.  Election terms begin on January 1.



How is it made up?

Much like the NC General Assembly, McDowell County's Congressional (Federal) representatives are broken into a bicameral legislature: the House and the Senate.  The Congressional House of Representatives currently has 435 voting members. 

The members of the House of Representatives serve two-year terms representing the people of a single constituency, known as a "district". Congressional districts are apportioned to states by population using the United States Census results, provided that each state has at least one congressional representative.  McDowell County is located in the N.C. 11th Congressional District (also called D11) and this district encompasses most of Western N.C. 

Starting in the 113th Congress (2013-2015), it is represented by House Member Mark Meadows (R). Meadows replaced Democrat Heath Shuler, who retired in 2013. Shuler had won the seat in the 2006 midterm elections, defeating 8-term Republican Representative Charles H. Taylor. Representative Meadow's seat is up for re-election in November 2018

Please see our candidate pages to see our candidates running against Representative Meadows. 
The 11th District was traditionally one of the most competitive congressional districts in North Carolina. This was largely because of the district's volatile politics. It was historically anchored by Asheville, which was heavily Democratic. However, many of the city's suburbs are among the most conservative areas of North Carolina. The rest of the district was split between Democratic-leaning counties in the south and Republican-leaning counties in the north. Consequently, congressional races in this district have historically been very close and hard-fought.

In 2011 the Republican-dominated legislature redrew the district, shifting most of Asheville to the 10th district. To make up for the loss in population, the 11th absorbed some strongly Republican territory in the Foothills which had previously been in the 10th. On paper, the 11th was one of the strongest Republican districts in the South. In February 2012 Shuler announced he would not seek a fourth term. Meadows won the seat in 2012.

Our current representative, Mark Meadows consistently votes against the interests of normal folks in our district. He even voted to shut down the federal government, resulting in serious economic harm to the tourism industry of western NC, and he has said he will gladly do it again.  His voting record includes attacks on our national forests, affordable healthcare, voting rights, civil rights, infrastructure improvement, women's rights, education, campaign finance reform, the arts, immigration reform, Social Security, workers rights, and even the air we breathe and the water we drink.  

Even in n this heavily gerrymandered district, Mark Meadows needs to be sent home. It is time for the people of western North Carolina to be represented by someone who cares about OUR values, instead of those of the Koch brothers, Art Pope and the American Legislative Exchange Council.  It is time to return our district to the people. We the people can make this happen, despite the odds being stacked against us. It is up to us.

Congressional Senators

U.S. Senators, unlike Congressional Representatives, are not bound by district but represent an entire state with each state being equally represented by two senators, regardless of its population, serving staggered terms of six years; with fifty states presently in the Union, there are 100 U.S. Senators.  McDowell County, and the rest of North Carolina, are currently represented by two Senators: Richard Burr (R) and Thom Tillis (R).  

Richard Burr's seat is not up for re-election until 2022.  

Thom Tillis' seat is not up for re-election until 2020.  

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. 

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