Think Big. Act Local.

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 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 to “we the rich and privileged.” 

Liberty and justice for all… for all…

Join us.  .  

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.

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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.

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.

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. 

Lonnie Bewernitz

Heather Haynes

Tony Bradley

McDowell County Young Democrats:  Ashley Junkins

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: 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.  

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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.

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

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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.  

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

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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.  

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MCDP Events

If you have an event you would like to add to this list please contact us by clicking here

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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