By Andres Butler – Daytona Times
Dr. L. Ronald Durham the City of Daytona Beach’s Community Relations Manager, was elected president of the Volusia County Democratic Black Caucus this month, replacing retired educator Jessie Harris.
“As the new president, I am committed along with our executive committee and growing membership to ensure that our collective voices are being heard.
The Democratic Black Caucus stands in solidarity in addressing issue that are affecting our people’s daily lives so that we can create solutions and strategies to address those issues,” Durham told the Daytona Times.
Durham also is known throughout the County for his role as Senior Pastor of Greater Friendship Baptist Church in Daytona Beach for 12 years and his stint as the Community Relations Coordinator for Halifax Health Hospice in Volusia and Flagler counties.
“The Volusia Democratic Black Caucus tends to be a very physical advocate for the issues that affect African Americans in this county. We’ll be the group that holds accountable those who are working against those interests in ways that will be detrimental to our community.”
Key focus: Education
The Volusia Democratic Black Caucus’ mission is to organize the African American community to elect Democrats to office in Volusia County and to ensure that those Democrats understand the concerns of Black people in Volusia County.
Durham wants to use voter education to address some of the main issues facing the caucus and the party.
“We must educate voters on putting our concerns in the forefront, which I believe will impact the ballot and public policy to build a Florida that represents the rights of women, access to quality health care, reassures voting rights, addresses poverty, ensures civil rights, jobs and affordable housing,” Durham explained.
The local Democratic Party is facing the same challenges statewide and nationally.
“I believe our challenges do all align. We need to look at demanding businesses have fair hiring practices, building political alliances with other groups such as Indivisible.org and the top item on everyone’s radar is adequate health care across the board for all Americans.”
Balance of Power
The Democratic Party also is battling the redrawing of congressional districts.
Over the last decade, Republican-controlled legislatures have redrawn districts which Democrats argue has shifted the balance of power from their party to the Republicans in local, state and national elections.
“I believe one of our main agenda items has to be holding educational forums to facilitate building voter understanding of the issues. We need effective voter registration drives. ‘Get Out to Vote’ is mandatory if we are going to change locally, county or statewide. We also must support qualified candidates approved by the Black caucus,” he noted.
The right candidate
Finding qualified candidates to support is another challenge for the party and another way to address gerrymandering.
“We must identify those candidates whose position is aligned with the policies that we as African Americans want to see put forward,” he related.
“Once we have the right candidates in place that Black voters have confidence in and want to see elected, then I believe we will find folk coming out to vote because they se in the individual someone who advocates on their behalf. That has been in my opinion why people haven’t come out to vote. The candidate has to be the right person to instill confidence in the voters that they will make their lives better.”
When it comes to voter apathy among African Americans, Durham says all voters have to do is look at Donald Trump.
Durham explained, “We have a tremendous ally helping us with that in President Donald Trump. He has singlehandedly energized the Democratic Party in ways that I haven’t seen as long as I’ve been voting.
“The missteps that he has taken in a very short time and the decisions that he is making have even given his own supporters buyers remorse,” Durham continued.
Durham also wants to see the party reach out to more young voters.
“One of the things I will be focusing on is getting out to our colleges in the area. We want a presence on campus with voter registration forums. We will recruit those politically minded to become a part of our caucus perhaps in the role of a sub committee that really goes out themselves to help us recruit that age group, which is difficult,” Durham added.
“We want to be proactive recruiting millennials and make them a part of our caucus. I think that will help attract others.”
The Volusia Democratic Black Caucus currently holds its meetings at 219 W. Howery Ave, Deland. They meet on the first Monday of every month at 6:00p.m.
It is one of 19 branches of the Democratic Black Caucus of Florida, according to its website, www.dbcflorida.org. The Florida caucus was established in 1983.
The Volusia Democratic Black Caucus is also currently building a chapter website soon to be launched at www.VolusiaCountyDBC.org