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The Daily Tar Heel

Orange County Democratic Party rallies to encourage early voting

Elaine Marshall, candidate for Secretary of State, speaks at the rally. The Democratic rally featured many political candidates who discussed their platforms if elected in November.
Elaine Marshall, candidate for Secretary of State, speaks at the rally. The Democratic rally featured many political candidates who discussed their platforms if elected in November.

Local and state Democratic candidates stole the spotlight from the presidential campaign at a rally Saturday.

The Orange County Democratic Party hosted the rally for Democratic candidates from across the state to discuss their platforms and meet supporters face to face. The rally was held in the Chapel Hill High School auditorium.

The candidates emphasized the importance of upcoming local elections to a crowd of about 100 avid supporters. One-stop early voting will begin Thursday.

A small bluegrass band entertained the audience, which included a mix of UNC students, government officials and residents.

Renato Zamudio, a senior political science major at UNC, said he was happy with the turnout for the rally.

“It was nice to meet with the candidates directly,” he said.

North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, the first woman to be elected to a statewide executive office, is running for re-election.

“We serve out a secretary of state office that stays up to date and has become a model for other states to follow,” Marshall said.

Marshall’s platform includes goals of staying on the cutting edge of technology and working to limit the frequency of domestic violence.

She said women’s issues are an important part of her campaign.

State Superintendent June Atkinson, who is also running for re-election, made it clear she wants to continue to improve North Carolina public schooling.

“It is my responsibility to carry out the laws from the General Assembly as they pertain to public institutions,” Atkinson said.

She received applause when she outlined her goal to raise the graduation rate to nearly 100 percent, work to provide a higher salary for teachers, incorporate more summer reading programs and continue to update schools’ technology.

“The students are achieving at a higher rate than ever before,” she said. “I know with work and collaboration we can improve our schools even more.”

Walter Smith, candidate for North Carolina commissioner of agriculture, said his platform goes beyond agricultural issues.

His campaign targets issues of food safety, consumer safety, environmental protection and animal welfare.

As commissioner, Smith said he would strive to promote better communication between residents and government officials.

“I will establish a hotline. It is important to have a hotline for citizens to voice their concerns and questions about the agricultural department,” Smith said.

UNC senior Lauren Hovis, vice president of UNC Young Democrats, said she thought the candidates had valuable things to say in a crucial election year.

“I hope students realize it is an important election and that they should vote,” Hovis said.

Contact the desk editor at city@dailytarheel.com.

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