Picknicking and politics – Candidates dish up messages at party gatherings | TheUnion.com

Picknicking and politics – Candidates dish up messages at party gatherings

Nevada County Republicans and Democrats alike enjoyed the cool, cloudy weather that accompanied political speeches and barbecue-style food Sunday afternoon in Grass Valley. The Democrats were celebrating with their annual picnic at Condon Park and Republicans with their annual barbecue at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

And while both served up good food, beer and desserts, political candidates were bringing in applause and cheers with calls for help and for change – a message that was loud and clear at both events.

The Democratic picnic had a showing of about 200 residents, said Democratic Central Committee Chairwoman Mary Longmore. The Republican fanfare was a little heftier with a turnout of around 345, said ticket taker Wade Freedle.

The Democrats started their festivities at around 1 p.m., serving up home-cooked food to residents playing bingo and children playing on the jungle gyms and swing sets nearby.

For Nevada City resident Roberto Riley, this was his first time at a Democratic picnic. He said he is a registered Democrat, but not usually active, and he came because he “was looking for opportunities to participate in regime change.”

The speakers came on as residents were finishing their food. Olivia Diaz, a candidate for a District 1 Supervisorial seat, was first to the microphone. Her rival, Nate Beason, was in the audience, but spoke at the Republican barbecue.

Dean Williams, candidate for the Grass Valley City Council, rang out with his promise to only vote for one of the four proposed developments for Grass Valley.

Bruce Conklin, the former District 3 Supervisor who is seeking his old seat, took a more national approach and spoke about environmental degradation and the war in Iraq. “I believe in what counties can do; I believe in what Nevada County can do,” he said.

Kristine Lang-McDonald, candidate for Senate District 1, spoke about the need for “developing the Democratic Party in rural counties.”

State Assembly District 3 candidate Robert Woods spoke just before featured speaker Sen. Joe Dunn, D-Garden Grove, who is known for his investigative work on the Enron scandal.

Republicans began showing up at the fairgrounds around 3 p.m. for the barbecue, which was catered by the Grass Valley restaurant, Holy Smoke. A silent auction and an “opportunity” raffle boasted prizes, such as a patriotic angel light, an Uncle Sam Hat Birdhouse and a Universal brass gun cleaning kit.

Twenty-year Nevada County resident Phil McMullin said that for him, the most important issues for Republicans were the “economy, constitutional change for a man and a woman getting married, and good leadership.”

After a social hour, mingling, and listening to “down-home style” band Juan Brown and his “Ragged but Right,” the speeches kicked off with State Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, Assemblyman Rick Keene, R-Chico, state attorney general candidate Chuck Poochigian, state insurance commissioner candidate Phil Kurzner, Nevada County supervisor candidates Nate Beason and John Spencer, Sierra Joint Community College District Trustee Area 7 candidate Aaron Kline, and incoming District 5 Supervisor Ted Owens.

One of the most popular speeches was delivered by 11-year-old Madeline Zea, who recited Patrick Henry’s famous 1776 speech, “Give me liberty or give me death,” just before Supervisor Sue Horne led the audience in a before-dinner blessing.

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