Local Dems name new party chair

CONYERS - The once-quiet Rockdale County Democratic Party named a new party chairman last week so former party chairwoman Ruth Wilson could focus on her campaign for Rockdale County Clerk of Courts.

Jimmy Norfleet, who resides in Rockdale County's Stanton precinct, has taken the helm as acting party chairman.

The activity in the local party is a marked change from four years ago when very few Democrats appeared on the general election ballot for local government posts.

However, this year the party has been more aggressive in recruiting candidates. In addition to Wilson's candidacy, Democrats are running for county Board of Commissioners Post 1 seat and the Board of Commissioners chairmanship. Two candidates, Randy Akies and Donald Ferguson, will square off in the July 15 primary election in hopes of unseating Republican Sheriff Jeff Wigington in the general election.

The local Democratic party also has worked to make its monthly meetings interesting to everybody. A debate in April between Ferguson and Akies drew a packed room at the Johnson Park Recreation Center that included a number of Republican candidates checking out the opposition.

At their May 24 meeting, the local Democrats hosted Van Johnson, president of the Georgia Association of Realtors, who discussed the home foreclosure crisis.

Norfleet, who owns a technology consulting business, said the party wants to be inclusive to as many people as possible. Making party meetings informative beyond just elections and voting drives is a part of that strategy.

"It's really all about information for the citizens and what's going on in the community," said Norfleet, who had served as a vice chairman for the party before taking the top spot. "Everyone is being affected by different things in everyday life."

With that said, Norfleet added that the ultimate goal of the party is to get Democrats elected to posts that have been held by Republicans in Rockdale County for years.

Since the 2004 elections, Rockdale County has grown significantly and become more Democratic. In the Feb. 5 presidential primary, 49 percent of registered voters turned out to cast ballots and Democratic voters outnumbered Republicans 12,243 to 8,887 ballots.

For more information about the Rockdale County Democratic Party, call 770-527-0542.

Jay Jones can be reached at jay.jones@rockdalecitizen.com.