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Denton County sees influx of Democrats on ballot

Denton County sees influx of Democrats on ballot

Political candidates cheer on the steps of the Denton Courthouse on the Square. The candidates were introduced by a Denton Women's March organizer to encourage political participation.

Denton County sees influx of Democrats on ballot
February 07
17:13 2018

The Denton County Republican and Democratic primaries for 2018 midterm elections are approaching on March 6, and the county, like the state of Texas, is seeing an increase in Democratic candidates.

“2018 will most certainly be the most important midterm election of my lifetime,” said Amy Taylor, the coordinated campaign chair of the Denton County Democratic Party. “We are on the precipice of a big decision on who government is designed to lift up, versus who it’s not.”

This year, the Denton County ballot saw an influx of Democratic candidates campaigning for notoriously Republican-held positions. One of these is Amy Manuel, a longtime resident of Denton County and candidate for county clerk.

Manuel will be the first Democrat to campaign for this seat in over three decades. She was motivated to run when the Republican county clerk incumbent, Julia Luke, refused to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2015 following the introduction of marriage equality into federal law.

“When you’re in an elected office, when you’re in government, your religion should have nothing to do with it,” Manuel said. “We have a separation of church and state. In my opinion, there are three evil ‘B’s in government: bigots, bullies and busybodies. [Luke] was bigoted against same-sex couples and the queer community, and she was going to bully them and keep them from getting their licenses.”

With years of database programming and experience as a crew leader on the 2010 census, Manuel said she believes she possesses the necessary qualifications to hold the position of county clerk, which primarily involves records management.

Manuel said she has a difficult campaign ahead of her but believes it will all come down to turnout.

“It’s not as much that Denton is an all-Republican county as it is a non-voting county,” Manuel said.

Taylor explained that although Denton has a large concentration of Democrats, many only vote every four years.

“I don’t like the argument, ‘I don’t vote because I don’t know,’” Taylor said. “Use your best judgment. It’s your civic responsibility, and as imperfect as it is, your voice matters.”

This is the first year that the Denton County Democrats have had a coordinated campaign chair separate from other leadership. The position was created in response to the sheer number of Democratic candidates running for election.

Taylor said she was inspired to serve within the party by the energy in Denton — not just to resist the Trump agenda, but to stand up for the values of the Democratic Party.

Although she said the party has less money overall than the Republican Party, she was of the opinion that “democracy is not best served by big money.”

Taylor’s job entails coordinating people and volunteers and finding effective, low-cost ways to spread the party’s message. Some of the ways they accomplish this are by block walking, knocking on doors and informing Denton of the differences between the Republicans and Democrats.

Although both parties engage in block walking, the GOP pays its walkers to participate, while the Democrats rely on volunteers and candidates to do the groundwork. Taylor highlighted the difference, which she said is that the Democratic workers have “real passion and are doing it because they truly believe in the values of the Democratic Party.”

Taylor encouraged interested people to get involved, emphasizing that now is the time to do so.

Although polls show young people are the least likely demographic to vote, Taylor does not believe that millennials are the problem.

“[They] are excited and energetic,” Taylor said, citing the battle for net neutrality in which millennials were actively engaged.

Taylor aims to better inform millennials and students on the ways the Democratic Party can serve them, through health care and the economy.

“Democrats want to feel useful and hopeful, and it feels good to do something,” Taylor said. “Change on the local level paves the way for change on the national level.”

Featured Image: Political candidates cheer on the steps of the Denton Courthouse on the Square at the Women’s March on Jan. 20. Omar Gonzalez

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Katharine Beal

Katharine Beal

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