It’s been a tough time for Democrats in Wise County.
Membership in the party has dropped considerably in the past decade along with the number of Democrats running in local elections.
But newly-elected Wise County Democratic Party Chair Tracy Smith hopes to reverse the trend.
“We have a primary election coming up next March,” Smith said, “and this time we hope to have a local Democrat in the election, unlike last time.”
On Monday, Smith replaced former longtime county chair Mark York. Dozens of Democrats attended the county meeting Monday night at the courtroom in the Wise County Sheriff’s Office. Smith was swept into the position after being nominated and receiving nine out of the 10 votes cast by precinct chairs in attendance.
She accepted the job with a round of applause from the crowded room.
“Thank you all for the opportunity,” Smith said. “I look forward to representing you all during the next election cycle.”
York resigned Monday. He has to move out of the county after accepting a job with AFL-CIO as treasury secretary of the Dallas Chapter.
“We are all sad to see Mark go,” Smith said. “He’s done a great job.”
There are several statewide and local issues Smith said would help increase the Democratic voting base in Wise County.
“When people see the effects of the Republican attack on women’s rights and the impact of voter ID, especially on the elderly, it will draw more people to the polls to vote Democrat,” she said. “Locally, you have corruption. The Republicans are doing it to themselves. We just have to make sure everyone is aware of these issues.”
Even if the Democrats can’t take back any local offices, which are all held by Republicans, a modest increase in voter turnout by the party could help swing a statewide election.
“The Texas Democratic Party is not waiting until 2018 or 2022, we are going to start in 2014 – we want to turn Texas blue,” said Cindi Koehn. “There is a lot of excitement. There is a lot happening. People are excited about Wendy Davis.”
“Don’t ask Wendy to run unless you’re willing to work as hard is she is,” said John Richie, an officer with State Democratic Executive Committee, to Wise County Democrats. “You don’t have to win Wise or Collin or Denton counties. You just have to increase the turnout, and you can do that.
“If you can increase voter turnout by 8 percent in the gubernatorial election you could change the election.”
Smith said she is proud to get the opportunity to hold the county chair, and she looks forward to working to increase the turnout in upcoming elections.