VOL. 10 | NO. 32 | Saturday, August 5, 2017
Strong is New Local Democratic Party Chairman
By Bill Dries
The new chairman of the Shelby County Democratic Party is Corey Strong, an attorney and special projects director for Shelby County Schools.
Strong was elected chairman of the local party Saturday, Aug. 5, in a reorganization of the party following its dissolution by the Tennessee Democratic Party a year ago.
Strong is also on the state party’s executive committee and was elected local chairman by a group of 88 members of the new Grass Roots Council that was another part of the reorganization.
After his selection Saturday, Strong said his goal is to select other party officers, fill in gaps on the grass roots council and get the local party structure filled in to begin moving toward 2018 county partisan elections in 2018.
“We’ve lost our voters,” Strong said in advance of the roll-call vote in Midtown. “There is no connection between me showing up to vote and my life changing.”
Strong defined the party’s goal for the countywide elections with primaries in May as changing that reality and better candidates for the Democratic slate of candidates.
Democratic nominees for countywide office lost every countywide office in the 2010 election and all but one – Assessor – in the 2014 elections. Democrats have retained their seven-vote majority on the 13-member Shelby County Commission.
The reorganization brought not only a larger group together – an executive committee of 26 that meets monthly and a grass roots council of 135 positions that meets quarterly and includes the executive committee – it also brought more new members to the party’s governing structure than before. And some of those new leaders have been part of an uptick in protests locally in the last year or so as well as active in issues as opposed to campaigns for office.
Strong acknowledged that the local party must be active and involved on those issues as well as in fielding candidates for elections.
Strong is a company commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and during his time in the Navy was deployed to Afghanistan.
He was one of five contenders for the chairmanship who conducted campaigns in the last month similar to those for public office. Normally, the selection of party leaders by the steering or executive committees of the two local parties are much more subdued or behind the scenes.
Strong claimed the chairmanship in a runoff with Ken Taylor, director of the Beale Street Merchants Association and a political campaign consultant.
The other contenders were Thurston Smith, a behavioral health consultant and 2015 city council contender; Larry Pivnick, a retired University of Memphis law professor who has run for the Tennessee Legislature and Anthony Anderson, founder of the Memphis Business Academy charter schools and also a 2015 city council contender.