CHARLOTTE, N.C. — About two dozen supporters and members of the newly-formed LGBT Democrats of Mecklenburg County gathered Wednesday evening to elect their first slate of officers.
Organizer Janice Covington had worked over the past few weeks to bring the new group into formation. It is affiliated with the statewide LGBT Democrats of North Carolina, an official state party caucus. The new local caucus will have a voice in affairs at the Mecklenburg County Democratic Party, as well.
Covington said she hoped the new caucus will move the community forward.
“This is an excellent way for our community to have a voice that we haven’t had in the past,” Covington told the group. “It’s something I’m proud of and y way to contribute to my community and the Democratic Party at the same time.”
Four officers were elected at the meeting: Gary Leake as president, Chad Sevearance as vice president, Cameron Joyce as secretary and Natasha Tutt as treasurer.
Leake has recent experience in local politics, serving as Charlotte City Councilmember Al Austin’s campaign manager in 2013. He’s lived in Charlotte since 1993, but only recently became involved in local politics and LGBT community work. Leake said he wants to bridge divides in the community.
“It’s embarrassing for a city as large and as forward-moving as this city is to be factioned off in the LGBT community,” Leake told the group after being elected. “In most larger cities, the LGBT communities work together much more so than this community does. I want to get together with different organizations that are already established and work to bring those together to see what needs to be done and what walls still need to be knocked down.”
Sevearance and Tutt are also officers with the Charlotte Business Guild. Joyce is a graduate student at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and a co-chair of the Charlotte Business Guild’s Aspiring Professionals Initiative.
The meeting was attended by a number of elected leaders, party officials and candidates, including state House Rep. Rodney Moore, Mecklenburg County Democratic Party Chair Robin Bradford, Democratic Women of Mecklenburg County Second Vice President Jyoti Friedland and former Charlotte City Councilmember Malachi Green. State Senate candidate Ty Turner was also present, as were representatives for candidates in the 12th Congressional District Democratic primary: George Battle, state Sen. Malcolm Graham, Matt Newton and Curtis Osborn.