North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin visited McDowell County Thursday morning where he met with local Democrats and unaffiliated voters as part of the party’s 2019 Rural N.C. Listening Tour.
Around 25 people attended the informal gathering held in the Parish House of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Marion.
“The party’s Rural N.C. Listening Tour started in 2018 as a way to reconnect with rural voters across North Carolina and recommit to fighting for pocketbook issues and our shared democratic values,” reads a statement from the state party.
Goodwin has visited more than half of all counties in North Carolina as part of the tour. In the western part of the state, he’s previously met with folks in counties like Buncombe, Swain and Jackson.
“We are a battleground state,” he said Thursday morning. “Every vote matters. There’s so much happening now and it depends on North Carolina. Everywhere I go and our staff goes, the excitement is palpable.”
Goodwin talked with McDowell Democratic Party activists alike about issues like strengthening the local economy and expanding Medicaid.
“There are folks who are hurting,” he said. “There are folks who have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet.”
Some of the concerns he heard from local residents were cyber security and access to affordable health care. Another concern was the expansion of Medicaid. Locally, 3,000 people in McDowell County would have health care, if Medicaid was expanded in North Carolina, according to Democratic Party officials.
Goodwin said expansion of Medicaid would be a big step but “it’s not the only solution.”
Local resident Ron Sinclair said food insecurity is a big problem in McDowell County with “30% of our kids are food insecure.” He also talked about how local residents have twice gone before the County Commission urging them to support the Foothills Food Hub.
Retired Judge Robert C. “Bob” Hunter talked to Goodwin of getting rid of gerrymandering. Goodwin said he supports an independent commission to draw boundary lines for legislative districts, so no party would benefit.