Wednesday, July 4, 2012
This past Saturday at the Regency Hotel in Jackson, the Mississippi Democratic Party elected Rickey L. Cole chairman of the state party on a 45 to 19 vote by the new executive committee, which will serve the 2012-2016 term. Cole, 45, is a former chairman of the party, a national committeeman, and was chairman of his home county's Democratic Party in Jones County. The Laurel native will bring a wealth of knowledge and grassroots experience to Mississippi Dems.
However, one aspect must be noted: The Democratic Party, as with any organization, needs young people to succeed. Cole fulfills that need, and not only with his plans to involve more young people with the party. He understands the importance of young people from his tenure as a member of the Young Democrats of Mississippi. He went on to serve as president of that organization. That day in 1994 at the old Sun-n-Sand Motor Hotel in Jackson when Cole was elected president, I was elected second congressional district chairman of the YDMS. I served with him in this capacity through a two-year term. Cole's commitment to having young people involved is unmatched.
In a recent interview, he told me that "of the 80 members on the state committee, 44 are new, first-time members." Cole went on to explain that 19 of the members are under age 40. Looking at the new state party—with this many young people, this many first-time committee members and a leader like Cole—I have no doubt that the party is back on the track of winning statewide elections and taking back the Legislature.
"We will be truly organized at every level, for every election, in every county, every time, in all 1,876 precincts," Cole said.
It is worth noting that Cole is fully aware of the broad-base support the Democratic Party has on the local level as far as municipal and county officials are concerned. It is my opinion that he will use that support to the fullest to recruit candidates and raise funds at the state level.
The GOP should note that there are a lot of beloved—and elected—Democrats out there in the city halls and the courthouses across this state. They will be a powerful bunch to deal with for grassroots organization in Mississippi.
Ken Strachan, is a former mayor of North Carrollton and is serving in his third as the Carroll County Coroner. He is a former member of the Mississippi Democratic Executive Committee.
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