In the wake of big losses at the polls last fall, Patsy Keever is taking the reins of the Buncombe County Democratic Party.
Activists elected the longtime local leader to chair the organization at their April 20 annual convention. She succeeds local attorney Emmett Carney, who served as the party’s head for the last two years.
A public school teacher for 25 years, Keever brings a wealth of political experience to the position: She served for 12 years on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and one year in the North Carolina Statehouse. She also mounted two failed bids for congress; the most recent one was last year against 10th District Republican incumbent Rep. Patrick McHenry.
Despite recent GOP gains at the county and state levels, Keever says she’s hopeful about the party’s future. She recently shared some of her thoughts on the new position with Xpress; here’s an excerpt.
Xpress Why did you want the job?
Keever: I want to help build the party and help Democratic candidates get elected. I’m very excited about it. I have a lot of enthusiasm for the job. … We’ve had some problems, but Buncombe County continues to be strong. And I think we can be helpful in building the party statewide.
How much of your motivation for wanting to get involved in this way is coming from frustration at what Republicans are doing in the North Carolina General Assembly?
“Frustrating” doesn’t even begin to explain how I feel about that. I just feel like their whole attitude is wrong. … I’ve run for office because I believe we all need to be involved in the political process. And I fully believe in the process, but we’ve got to educate the voters. They’ve got to understand what [GOP legislators are] doing. And I don’t think they got what they thought they were going to get with this last vote. The path that we’re heading down right now is the wrong path. And so I want to do whatever I can to help right that.
Any specific goals or things you want to do for the local party over the next year or two?
Build the party, build the community within the party, and make it more inclusive, give people a reason for wanting to be involved in the political process. I think political parties are important to the process.
In addition to electing Keever chair April 20, the party appointed several new leading officers: Tom Sullivan (1st vice chair); Keith Young (2nd vice chair); Parker Sloan (3rd vice chair); Mark Newman (treasurer); Susan Wilson (secretary).