Chairman Gabe Okoye speaks to the BOC

Democratic Party chair: More diversity needed in Gwinnett’s leadership

By Curt Yeomans – Gwinnett Daily Post

Gwinnett County Democratic Party Chairman Gabe Okoye conceded that ultimately it’s the voters who decide whether they want someone from a minority population group representing them, but appointed officials?

That’s a different story.

Okoye stood before county commissioners on Tuesday and called on them to appoint more minorities to key positions in the majority-minority county’s government, including county administrator, spokesman, clerk and department head jobs.

“The county’s government does not reflect the diversity that is out there in the county,” Okoye told the Daily Post after the meeting.

Okoye’s call for more minority representation in leadership positions comes amid an ongoing backlash against Commissioner Tommy Hunter for comments he made on Facebook, including calling U.S. Rep. John Lewis a “racist pig.”

Okoye added that he believed the fact that Hunter made the comments in the first place might be a byproduct of a lack of diversity in the higher levels of county government.

“The structure in the county is not helping matters because it’s like the good old boys and a club,” he said.

While Okoye singled out the appointed positions, he also said adding more seats on the commission might help matters by shrinking commission district sizes and providing more positions for minority candidates to run for. He pointed to the Fulton and DeKalb counties, each of which have seven commission seats.

Among the 10 counties in the Atlanta Regional Commission footprint, only Fulton, DeKalb and Henry have more than five seats on their commissions, including chairman or CEO positions. Henry’s board has six seats, Rockdale’s has three seats and the rest have five-seat commissions.

Okoye pointed out there are some U.S. states whose entire populations are smaller than Gwinnett as evidence of why he felt the county commission should be enlarged.

 But on the issue of appointed positions, Okoye said that while Cobb County, which has more than 100,000 less residents than Gwinnett, also has a five-seat commission, its county manager is an African-American. Cobb also has one African-American commissioner.

“The commissioners are elected, I have no problem with that,” Okoye said. “But why is it that the County Administrator, Mr. (Glenn) Stephens is white, the deputy (county administrator) is white, (Communications Director) Joe Sorenson is white and the clerk is white.

“Is there no qualified non-white person for these appointed positions in a population of close to one million people?”

Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said the county is trying to increase diversity at the appointed level. Although there are not many minorities in appointed department head positions, there are some.

“We are certainly interested in adding more diversity at all levels within the county organization, including the senior management level,” Nash said. “I know that this is an objective as hiring decisions are made by staff, even as they focus on hiring the most qualified candidate for each position.

“We are making progress overall and anticipate that, as we have vacancies at the department head level, we will be able to promote and hire individuals who add to the diversity at that level.”

Washington Post Video

Check out our video done by the Washington Post

The Gwinnett Democrats got some national attention at our booth at the Gwinnett County Fair.   The Washington Post came and we are in their video!

 

Business Meeting on Monday

meeting

We will have our monthly business meeting this coming Monday, January 25, 2016.  Next month, and for the rest of the year, our business meetings will  resume on the 4th Tuesday of the month. 

This Monday, we will have an exciting presentation about how to become a delegate to the Democratic National Convention this summer in Philadelphia.  Seventh District Chair Steve Reilly will give a presentation for the 7th Congressional district and Fourth Congressional District Co-Chair Rep. Billy Mitchell will be there to speak for the 4th.

WHEN: Monday January 25, 2016
WHERE: Old Lawrenceville City Hall 18 S Clayton St, Lawrenceville, GA 30046, USA map
TIME:  7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Further information is available here.

Also, if you are  interested in running for office please contact our Chairman of Candidate Recruitment by email or by phone at 770.256.6663 .

Memorial Day

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Today, Memorial Day, is the day we take time out to honor and remember those who died in wars serving our country.  Families remember their fallen loved ones and veterans remember their fellow soldiers who did not return home alive.

Memorial Day has its roots in the civil war and started out as “Decoration Day” and was a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. May 30 was selected because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. Congress made it an official holiday in 1971 with the National Holiday Act and it was expanded to include all who died in our nation’s wars.

Let us remember our departed veterans in our thoughts and prayers and let’s work to ensure that America’s freedoms and blessings are available to all Americans.

regards,

Jim Shealey
Chairman
Gwinnett Democratic Party

Herb Green Picnic

Our annual Herb Green picnic was a smashing success last Saturday.  It was well attended, the food was great and Leader Stacey Abrams and Chairman Dubose Porter joined us as speakers.  Also in attendance was our Democratic delegation from the Gold Dome –  Senator Steven Henson, Senator Curt Thompson, Senator Vincent Fort,  Rep. Dewey McClain, Rep Hugh Floyd, Rep.  Pedro Marin , Rep. Karen Bennett and a huge crowd of wonderful Democrats!

We want to also extend a huge thank you to our organizers, Claudette Forbes, Cheryl Williams and George Williams and all those who came early to setup and stayed afterwards to clean up.

 

 

herb green event sign
The annual Herb Green Picnic
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