Local delegates seek to bring DNC energy back to Asheville

Local delegates Sarah Zambon and Parker Sloan with Hawaii governor Neil Abercrombie at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Photo courtesy of Sarah Zambon.

Two young local Democratic Party activists — Sarah Zambon and Parker Sloan — are delegates to the party’s convention in Charlotte, and plan to take the energy and message they see there back home.

Zambon, a land-use attorney in the Asheville area, first got involved in politics by volunteering for former President Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996 and was later a White House intern. She took a hiatus from politics during most of college, a time she describes as one of cynicism, before President Barack Obama’s campaign drew her back in.

“He’s done more than I thought he could,” Zambon told Xpress as she readied to enter the Time Warner stadium on the convention’s final day, Sept. 6. “I know a lot of people are giving him a hard time because the economy hasn’t turned around, but it’s the biggest downturn since the Great Depression; it takes more than four years to fix that.” She adds that health-care legislation and Obama’s stances on women’s rights are among the other reasons for her support.

By contrast, Sloan got involved in politics during college when Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx spoke at Appalachian State University.

“She came to a required session I had for a class, and she started her presentation by saying that she knew the students didn’t like her, so she didn’t expect any good questions,” Sloan said. “At that moment half the room had no idea who she was. It rubbed me the wrong way; I went to the campaign office the next day.” He’s remained invested in the Democrats because he believes in “an economic floor, rules to the game” and “because we’re trying to make it easier for people to vote.”

Both are now active in the Buncombe County Young Democrats, Sloan as its president and Zambon as treasurer.

“My passion is trying to get more people our age to vote,” said 27-year-old Sloan. “There’s going to be 32 people on that ballot, and at least one of them affects your life.”

He added, “There’s the sentiment that government doesn’t matter, or our structure doesn’t matter, and we can debate the two-party system all day long.” Sloan also talked about protests at the DNC, some of which have criticized Obama from a leftist perspective. “But it doesn’t get better when people don’t participate, or throw their hands up in the air, or wave their anarchy flags.”

While Obama’s nomination was a foregone conclusion, both delegates stay the convention still offers a valuable opportunity to rally the party faithful and strengthen its organization.

“You have a role at the convention, but after we hear all those speeches and facts, we need to take that back and mobilize our communities,” Zambon says. “That’s really the more important job of being a delegate: taking this back to Asheville and getting people fired up.”

So far, Zambon is enthusiastic about the convention, describing it as “one of the most amazing experiences of my life” (she’s writing an account of her time at the convention for Xpress) though one that’s kept her quite busy.

“I’m honored to serve as a delegate. This is history in the making,” Sloan said. “We’re hosts to the nation and the world, I’ve been welcoming folks from Minnesota and North Dakota, that’s been one of the best parts of this.”

“There is an important roles for political parties,” Zambon said. “This election has especially shown the very drastic differences in how the two parties view the world. The word ‘Democrat’ means something, it means standing up for civil rights, public education, Medicaid and Medicare. That’s the point of the Democratic Party.”


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.