By Erin Smith
Residents throughout the 9th Congressional District gathered at the Elizabethtown Middle School Gymnasium for a Rally for Fair Elections on Saturday.
As speaker after speaker took the stage, they whipped the crowd into frenzy waving signs and chanting, “This is what democracy looks like.” In all, 19 speakers addressed the crowd during the afternoon.
The 9th Congressional District Democratic Candidate Dan McCready was the highlight of the many speakers of the afternoon. He acknowledged the crowd gathered.
“We are all in this thing together. We are standing here unified against what has happened,” said McCready.
When he learned the State Board of Elections was not going to certify the results of the 9th Congressional District due to voting irregularities, McCready said his campaign began to work to ensure “everyone’s voice was heard.” He said he encourages everyone to tell their stories to the State Board of Elections and to share them with the national news.
“Think about the men and women who have given their lives for our freedoms. Whether that is overseas in uniform. Whether that is here on the home front in battle for civil rights. Think about people who have given up their one precious life for our freedoms. There is nothing more sacred than your right to vote,” said McCready.
He reminded those present that Republican Candidate Mark Harris tried unsuccessfully to sue the State Board of Elections in an attempt to get the board to certify the results of the 9th Congressional District race.
McCready also spoke briefly with BladenOnline.com. He said it is very important that people who have had their votes stolen from them find justice.
“I started out in the Marine Corps. I had the honor of leading a platoon of 65 Marines overseas in Iraq. We never cared about if you are Republican or Democrat. We are all Americans. We fought for our democracy. We fought for our freedoms,” said McCready.
He continued, “There is no greater freedom than our right to vote.”
McCready said there are many people in Bladen County that deserve answers regarding what happened in the 2018 election. He stated that no one knows exactly how many votes were impacted by the irregularities that took place.
“My focus all along has been on calling for an investigation. Calling for a full hearing so that we can find out what did Mark Harris know and when did he know it,” said McCready.
Also speaking was Chairman of the NC Democratic Party, Wayne Goodwin. He encouraged those attending to keep fighting for justice in the 9th Congressional District.
“We are about justice and fair elections,” said Goodwin. He noted that by attending the the rally you are indicating you “care about fair elections.”
In addition to Democratic party leaders from Anson, Union, Richmond and Robeson counties, Bladen County residents and Bladen County Democratic Party members were present as well.
Anson County Commissioner and Chairwoman of the Anson County Democractic Party, Vancine Sturdivant attended the event. She said she attended the rally because she wanted to see justice. Sturdivant said she thought some of the issues that ocurred with the election were due to a lack of voter knowledge.
Bladen County resident Jerry Withrow said he attended the rally because he is distressed by the election fraud allegations that have been alleged to have taken place in the 2018 election.
Withrow said, “I’m afraid that we’ve really suffered a lot in Bladen County for not a very good reason. I feel like we’ve been targeted. We were on the brink of becoming a very progressive part of the state. We voted for President Obama twice and we elected a black sheriff and we were doing a lot of progressive things.”
Withrow added, “This recent scandal is just the last straw for a lot of us.”
He added it is time for everyone to come together as one in an attempt to find answers and justice.
Another Bladen County resident described her election experience. Linda Baldwin, who is a retired educator in Bladen County, was a speaker during the well attended rally. She shared her experience from the 2016 election. Baldwin said that in the 2016 election a young man showed up at her house and told her he was a college student and he was inquiring about her absentee ballot.
“He said he was getting paid to help people fill out absentee ballots,” siad Baldwin.
She said because she was a retired educator, she wanted to help the young man. Baldwin said she gave him her absenteee ballot and he left saying he had to get a witness to sign the ballot. Baldwin said he did not return with the ballot and she called a friend for advice. She said next she called the Bladen County Board of Elections office and that is when the man returned to her home with her ballot.
Baldwin told BladenOnline.com she now votes in person because of her experience in 2016.
Other speakers for the afternoon included: Bladen County Democractic Party Chairman Rev. Larry Hayes, First Vice Chairman of the NC Democractic Party Bobbie Richardson, NC Senate District 19 Kirk deViere, NC House District 47 Charles Graham, Southern Coalition for Social Justice John Carella, Red Spring Commissioner Caroline Sumpter, Richomnd County Commissioner Tavares Bostic, NC Senate District 49 Terry Van Duyn, NC House District 92 Chaz Beasley, President of the Nc Democractic Women Julia Buckner, Presiden of the Nc Senior Democrats Tom Rockrock, Former Candidate NC 7th Congressional District Dr. Kyle Horton, UNC Wilmington Student Annaliese Sheppard, NAACP Second Vice President Michael McCrae, Indivisible District 9 Carolyn Eberly, and Indivisible Cape Fear Gerald Falls.
Ninth Congressional District Democratic Party Chairwoman Cynthia Wallace welcomed everyone to the rally and Bladen County Commissioner Arthur Bullock greeted the group. Former 2018 NC Senate candidate Helen Probst Mills offered the moment of silence, Bladen County Commissioner Ophelia Munn-Goins and Vietnam Veteran Larry Helms led the Pledge of Allegiance, and former 2018 Bladen County Sheriff Candidate Hakeem Brown led the group in singing the National Anthem. The group also sang, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”Share: