Leaders of the 2017 Missouri Democrat Days on March 3 and 4 in Hannibal agreed that one of the most positive things they saw was the large number of young people attending.

Leaders of the 2017 Missouri Democrat Days on March 3 and 4 in Hannibal agreed that one of the most positive things they saw was the large number of young people attending.

Mary Ann Lovall of Louisiana, Mo., coordinator of ticket sales, reported 330 people attended, including 60 college students and members of the Young Democrats of Missouri. They attended the March 4 brunch, she said, and although “they voted, now they realize the importance of getting others to vote.” A large number of high school students attended the evening banquet, Lovall added.

Also recognizing the importance of adding young Democrats was former Sen. Wes Shoemyer, emcee at the March 4 banquet. Reporting, “A great influx of young people,” he said, “If we are going to make changes, we are going to have help.”

Earlier in the afternoon, former Marion County Assessor Carl Zupan reported he had attended all 46 Demo Days in Hannibal, and also was glad to see so many young people. With Zupan was Mel Norton, a Lincoln County Democratic Committee member, who wanted to report his room at the Hannibal Inn, which hosted Demo Days, was very comfortable.

The strongest message heard at the banquet came from Stephen Webber, MDP chairman, who challenged everyone to become involved in their home counties. Voicing opposition to President Donald Trump, Webber named several friends who died while deployed with him in the military. He explained how each casualty was among the people Trump would not want in the United States.

Declaring, “The country needs a strong, vital Democratic party,” Webber said, “It is worse than ever in our history, and it's going to be the fight of our life. … We are the party of progress. We have the right values. You're never going to do anything more important than oppose Donald Trump.” Missouri's Democrats need to “play a game you can win,” he said. “We understand teamwork. … We will win by organizing.”

Young Democrats new leader promises to help progressive groups

Also speaking at the banquet was Houston Roberts, who was elected president of the Young Democrats of Missouri earlier that day. Roberts encouraged young people to get involved and run for office, adding, “We have to make sure we can get everyone to help.” Roberts later explained Missouri has “young progressive groups” across the state. “We are going to connect with these groups to help” with their special events.

As Anne McCaskill Moroh of St. Louis posed for a photo with Demo Days leader John Yancey, she explained her sister, Sen. Claire McCaskill, could not be at Demo Days because she was attending a family wedding.

During the banquet a message from Sen. McCaskill was screened, noting her two sisters would be representing her. Moroh then spoke as a member of “Team Claire.”

State Sen. Gina Walsh of the 13th District also spoke at the banquet, stressing the importance of keeping young Democrats involved. Reporting the 2017 legislative session in Jefferson City has been the most challenging since arrived in 2003, she voiced gratitude for “hearing from folks who have never been engaged before.”

Among people speaking at the morning brunch was 43rd District State Rep. Kip Kendrick of Monroe City, serving his second term. He said that with Gov. Eric Greitens' budget cuts including $156 million from higher education, the state needs to “get students off campus with paid internships to give them a foot in the door, so we can retain them in the state.” Kendrick said his bills “are not partisan, but the chances of them passing are about zero. … We are in a super minority. We need you to pay attention to what is happening at the state level. They are rapidly passing legislation. ... We are fighting for workers, fighting for the middle class. Everything we believe in is at stake. We cannot give up.... We will win back some important seats in 2018 and get (Sen.) Claire McCaskill re-elected.”

Former Lt. Gov. Joe Maxwell also spoke at the brunch, declaring, “I believe in a populist party that represents all of the people. It is my belief our founders based this country on economic freedom, … the goal of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison.” Adding he is not opposed to financial success of individuals, Maxwell said he believes Democrats failed years ago by focusing on issues and not values. “Issues do not win elections. Values do.”

The featured speaker at the brunch was Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway, who began by reporting since she took office, “30 charges have been filed against 11 public officials.” Discussing her job, Galloway said it is “important someone in government is making sure every dollar you send is spent reasonably. ... Your state government has implemented tax cuts. ... $200 million has been pulled out. Meanwhile taxes paid by most every family stayed the same or increased. My job as your auditor is to hold the powerful accountable to you.”

Cydney Mayfield, a lawyer, represented the Missouri Rural Democratic Caucus and encouraged people to become involved, adding, “If we don't win back rural Missouri, we don't have a chance.”

At the brunch, Judge Rachel Bringer Shepherd led the people in standing and singing “You're a Grand Old Flag,” and during the evening banquet she led the Pledge of Allegiance and singing of the National Anthem. Also at the banquet, the Clarence Cannon Award was announced. The winner was Clarence Mayor James A. Watson.

Reach reporter Bev Darr at bev.darr@courierpost.com.