It’s time for the election of new members to the GCDC, and we have an extraordinary slate of candidates.
The election will be held on Thursday of THIS WEEK, July 16, at 6:00 p.m., via Zoom. You will receive your ballot and an invitation with a link to the meeting on Thursday morning via e-mail.
Since we have not been able to meet as a group, face-to-face, the candidates are introducing themselves to you via the attachment to this e-mail. So, if you have questions for any of them, be prepared to ask them at our Zoom meeting. Four candidates are running for re-election and the remaining five will be new to the Committee.
Because there is a seat open for every candidate, the Democratic Party of Georgia has given us permission to vote the entire slate at once. We will, however, provide for voting by district as well.
Because of your commitment to Democratic principles, and that of all our Gilmer Democrats, we are TURNING GEORGIA BLUE. THANK YOU!!!
Introductions to the Candidates for the Gilmer County Democratic Committee
David M. Ashley
David Ashley recently retired from a 40-plus-year career in water resources and environmental planning and permitting.
David came to Atlanta from his home state of Indiana in 1973 and promptly fell in love with the North Georgia mountains. He worked 13 years for the Georgia DNR/EPD, where he managed the water resources planning and permitting program. In 1990 he moved to a local engineering firm, where he started the environmental practice and led it to become the largest such group in the Southeast. He personally led many complex and sometimes controversial projects, including the first Water and Wastewater environmental impact studies for other projects. He learned firsthand the importance of listening to stake holders and building consensus to advance projects to completion.
David and his wife Deborah live in the Coosawattee neighborhood with four grandchildren in Blue Ridge, Georgia, and Portland, Oregon. Always an outdoorsman, environmentalist, and Democrat(!), David continues to be an avid whitewater kayaker, mountain biker, and supporter of protecting public lands. He is very dedicated not only to the defeat of Donald Trump but also to winning a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate so that many of the progressive reforms our country so desperately needs can be accomplished.
Melba A. Gandy
Following the 2016 election, I was motivated to go to work for the Democratic Party and was instrumental in the formation of the Gilmer County Democratic Committee. I became the Chair at its first meeting and have served in that position ever since. My term as Chair will expire and a new Chair will be elected at the first meeting following the installation of new Committee members elected on July 16. I plan to remain active, however, and am running for another term on the Committee.
My interest in politics began when I was a teenager and worked in the Florida legislature for both a House member and a Senator. I went on to work for the Secretary of State and then the Governor, Farris Bryant. Later, Governor Bryant was appointed by President Johnson to a position in the White House in Washington and he asked me to join him there. It was a heady experience for 20-something that solidified my Democratic Party commitment.
I had a long and satisfying career in business following my term in the White House. I founded and served as CEO of a consulting firm in Washington that specialized in emergency management policy, contracting with various Federal agencies such as FEMA. I retired happily to Ellijay in 1999 and plan to continue working for Democrats as long as I am able.
Jo B. Hensley
My favorite politically relevant quote is, “My country, right or wrong: if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” Today, I feel a moral imperative to do whatever I can to change the direction we have travelled during the past few years.
I lived in Indiana for most of my adult life. As a moderate, I have voted for both Republicans and Democrats. Maybe it was the idealism of youth but it seemed that both parties were willing to work together, negotiating compromise for the common good. Today, this country is more polarized than at any other time in my life. The Republican Party seems dedicated to concentrating power and money in the hands of the few. The direction that the radical wing of the Republican Party is heading is frightening.
When I moved to Georgia two years ago, I started attending the meetings of the local Democrats. As events have unfolded over the past few years, I have reached the point where I feel I have to become more involved.
As I mentioned before I am a moderate; definitively a Democrat but still a moderate. I feel I bring a bit of a different perspective to the Gilmer County Democrats. I want to work to draw independents and those that mistakenly believe themselves to be moderate Republicans into the fold. I want to work to get out the vote. I want to support Democratic candidates in northern Georgia.
I have been involved with democratic activities my whole adult life. I started a local party committee in Harris County and spent a lot of time working with my friends in the Muscogee Dems. I proudly served as the Vice Chair of the 3rd Congressional District.
My political activism grew stronger as my children got older: that is, until I became very ill and had to curtail my activities in 2009. I was still active but worked from home.
When we moved to Gilmer County, I could not believe my luck. Gilmer Dems are a great group of people working hard to uphold the values and principles of the Democratic Party — principles I hold near and dear to my heart. I was welcomed with open arms and hearts. I felt like I came home!
I want to continue working with this great team of political activists who share my goals and values. I want to continue working to GOTV and help more Democrats get elected.
I have access to and can parse the voter files for the Gilmer Dems and the Democratic Party of Georgia.
Noah May is a Gilmer County native running for the County Committee. He holds a Masters’ degree in Public Administration from Columbus State University.
Mr. May wants to be a part of the Committee because it is a way for him to both serve the community and to get more involved with the Democratic Party. In the past three years, Mr. May has seen the Trump Administration sow division and work only for the rich and the Trump family.
The troubling direction the Trump Administration and the Republican Senate is leading this country drives Mr. May to become more involved in the political process. In short, he wants to become more involved to help ensure a more united nation and a better life for all Americans – not just the wealthy or the Trump family.
I have lived in Ellijay since 2004. I have always been fairly political. I worked on local campaigns in my birthplace of Tampa, Florida, and on several national campaigns. One of my neighbors, Betty Reynolds was Jimmy’s cousin. But not the only one, since three other neighbors all in my block were also Jimmy Carter’s relatives: the Reagans, the Carters, and the Emkens. So, I guess I had no choice but to become politically involved at an early age.
I had a fascinating career in the television industry in Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida; Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia; and the Cayman Islands. I have many stories for another time.
I have been the District E, Precinct 12 representative on the Committee since Melba originally founded our Gilmer County Democrats. I would like to continue in this position for many reasons. One, I live less than a half mile from the precinct. Two, because I have known DJT personally since 1976 and, as Melba so aptly puts it, “I’m not going anywhere until he is out of office.” Frankly, the Donald that I know never tells the truth and could not win anything unless he lied, cheated, bribed someone, or stole it. Needless to say, I am a committed non-fan and have been since the first day that I met him.
So it would be my honor and privilege to continue in this position. I come from a long line of patriots, including Arthur Middleton, one of the signers of our nation’s Declaration of Independence.
I’m a Democrat, a college science major, and former employee of the Centers for Disease Control. I am dedicated to supporting those that can return our nation to the rule of law and restore the checks and balances that keep us safe.
I became aware of political issues during Nixon’s impeachment trial. The break-in and cover-up he directed revealed a serious flaw in our system of government. I wanted to see more integrity in our elected officials.
After spending time overseas, I realized that our system of checks and balances was brilliant and comforting. Rather than dictators who destroyed people’s lives so they could live lavishly, or governments that owned public services (e.g., transportation, media, and postal services), the power in our country was assigned by our Constitution to the Executive, Judicial, and Legislative Branches. Theoretically, they would keep power distributed and in check. Unfortunately, our current administration ignores the checks and balances our Constitution established. Our elected president flagrantly abuses his power.
The administration’s ability to convince large groups of people that issues such as global warming or the current pandemic are hoaxes is disturbing to me, potentially deadly to our citizens, and is eroding respect for scientific achievements.
I am running again for the Committee to do whatever I can to help elect leaders who will respect and reinforce our Democratic principles and institutions.
I am a lifelong Democrat, a resident of Ellijay, and a passionate advocate for social and environmental justice.
In the 1980s I served as a director and then-chapter president of the National Women’s Political Caucus, an organization dedicated to recruiting and supporting pro-choice women for elected and appointed offices. I’ve also been a campaign consultant for both candidates and initiative ballot measures.
My professional background is in communications. I recently retired as Communications Manager for the Project Chimps wildlife sanctuary and now have more time to volunteer and assist the Party.
I would be honored to serve.
I have been a lifelong Democrat and have worked on several campaigns, including phone banks for President Obama as well as President Clinton (along with stuffing envelopes).
I am 65 years old and have been to Washington, D.C. too many times in my life to stand with women demanding that we get and/or maintain the right to control our bodies safely. I have written many Letters to the Editor of my local newspapers over the years encouraging voters to vote with good conscience.
I have been on the GCDC for about four years and have been the Treasurer for two. I cannot stand by and idly watch our country devolve as we are doing today with Trump in the White House. I also do what I can to support our state and local Democratic tickets.
I look to find ways to encourage Gilmer County Democrats to learn they are not alone here. Silence = complicity.