Democrats honor members at dinner
By Dianne Yost
The Morgan County Democratic Committee’s Fourth annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner event brought together 130 local community members Thursday night to pay tribute to late Morgan County Democratic “giants,” honor local community members, celebrate candidates and hear from keynote speaker Bobby Saxon, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Georgia’s 10th District.
Morgan County Democratic Committee Chair Patsy Harris welcomed the crowd against the backdrop of a slide show depicting the lives of three “Democratic giants who passed away since the last Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.” Members of the newly formed Young Democrats of Morgan County High School kicked off the event by paying tribute to the late Morgan County Commissioners Curtis Butler and Chester Thomas as well as the late Roy Lambert who represented Morgan County as a state representative and state senator as well as a community leader.
Morgan County High School (MCHS) student Gary Walker paid tribute to Chester Thomas in a speech highlighting Thomas’s many accomplishments and his talent as a great communicator. “He was a giant among us,” said Walker. In honoring Roy Lambert, MCHS student Patrick Vernon showcased Lambert’s illustrious life, his career in politics and his service to the community. Vernon noted that Mr. Lambert “was always working to improve the community for future generations.” MCHS student Serita Smith spoke of Curtis Butler’s life in Morgan County and his passion for community service. “He was a humble man and a lifelong advocate of civil rights. He was a giant among us,” she said.
Local community members also were recognized for their passion, work and enthusiasm. The Spirit Award was awarded to two Morgan County citizens Karen Strelecki and Ollie Richards. “No one tops their enthusiasm, dedication and results. With their leadership we registered 650 voters this year,” said Ruth Bracewell.
The Spotlight Award, which is awarded to an elected official, was presented to Morgan County Tax Commissioner Becky Astin, while the Yellow Dog Democrat Award went to Morgan County School Board member Minnie Peek.
Morgan County High School Principal Dr. Mark Wilson, who was recently named the 2009 High School Principal of the Year by the National Association of School Principals, was awarded the Roy Lambert Public Service Award.
Morgan County Assistant Superintendent for Student Support and Community Relations Sarah Burbach read a commendation from Morgan County Superintendent of Schools Stan DeJarnett who was unable to attend the event. “Mark embodies all the traits of a public servant, serving its most precious resource – our children – at the most important times in their lives. Under his leadership, Morgan County High School graduates are more prepared than ever for the path they choose. Like Roy Lambert he has brought honor and recognition to Morgan County,” said Burbach.
Keynote speaker Bobby Saxon, Democratic Candidate for Congress for Georgia’s 10th District, began his remarks with a tribute to giving back to the community. Saxon said that service ties us to our legacy, connects us to the future and connects us to each other.
“Service brings all of us together. We see people at their best. It was shown to me by my father and the giants we spoke of tonight.”
Saxon spoke of his time in the Georgia Army National Guard where he served in Germany during the cold war. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Saxon rejoined the Georgia Army National Guard and ultimately served in Iraq where he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Combat Action Badge. He was later assigned to the Pentagon’s Army Operations Center in Washington, D.C.
Saxon said that one of the things that motivated him to run for office was his experience in Washington, D.C. “I heard politicians from the far left and the far right bickering instead of solving problems.”
Democrats honor members at dinnerSaxon said he wanted to take a bi-partisan approach to solve problems. “We can change this district. We can change this state and we can change this country.”