WINDER - Members of the new Barrow County Democratic Party intend to bring the county back to a two-party system, said acting chairwoman Beth Smith.
Barrow County has not seen a Democratic candidate since Alvin Evans Sr. ran for the Board of Education District 2 seat in 2002, according to Kristi Royston, Barrow County elections supervisor. In fact, the last Democrat elected to a Barrow County office was in 1988 when the people voted Johnny C. Smith to the District 1 county commissioner's seat.
But that's about to change, Beth Smith said.
"A two-party system is important to have, and the Democratic Party did not have an organization in our county," Smith said. "That's why I got involved, to start up and re-form the Democratic Party."
The month-old party held its first meeting July 9 and has about 15 members. Members will discuss chapter bylaws and upcoming chapter elections Monday.
Georgia, a traditionally Democratic state since Reconstruction, experienced a revitalization of the Republican Party in the mid-1980s and more so with the 2002 election of Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue, Johnny Smith said.
"The Democratic Party wasn't active or organized," he said. "Most everybody running went over to the Republican Party when Governor Perdue was elected. If you look at the process, everybody in the South until the late 1980s and early 1990s was Democrat. When the state went Republican, they had a better grass-roots organization."
Barrow County has 27,471 registered voters, according to Royston said. The number of registered Democrats and Republicans in the county is unavailable because Georgia does not require its voters to register by party, voter registrar Jeannine Hardigree said.
The Barrow County Republican Party formed in 1994 with 16 members, chairman Ken Young said. Its current 105 members are not about to relinquish their dedication to Barrow County politics, he said.
"We support efforts to lower taxes, equal opportunity and believe less government intrusion is better for all citizens," Young said. "These (beliefs) will be promoted by the local Republican Party, even if we must face other political parties and opposition candidates."
Democrats know it will take awhile to balance Barrow County politics.
"I don't think we will overtake the Republicans overnight, but it will take a lot of work," Beth Smith said. "The state party is getting back to its grass-roots movement. We will grow it one person at a time."
A four-party system would be ideal, according to Johnny Smith.
"You need competition," Johnny Smith said. "The more people, the better it is, the more checks and balances. I'd like to see a four-party system with independents, Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians. I think this year we'll see a lot of people change courses like in the late 1980s. This whole area is Republican, and I believe changes will be made."
For more information, call Beth Smith at 770-307-8120 or e-mail BarrowDems@yahoo.com.
SideBar: If you go
What: Barrow County Democratic Party meeting
When: 7 p.m. Monday (meets the second Monday of every month)
Where: Piedmont Regional Library, 189 Bell St., Winder