A Baldwin County couple is getting ready once again to participate in the Democratic National Convention, except unlike previous political events, they won’t be there live. Instead, they will participate in a virtual setting amid the coronavirus pandemic.
For Quentin T. Howell, chairman of the Baldwin County Democratic Committee, and who serves as chairman of the 10th District of Georgia Democratic Party, this year’s Democratic National Convention marks his seventh elected delegate event. During the past six years, he has served as a delegate at three state events and as a delegate three times on the national level.
“This will be my seventh convention and my fourth national one,” said Howell, who also is a candidate for the 145th District Georgia House of Representatives seat. “All of those are back-to-back.”
Howell’s first national convention was in Denver, Colo. when Pres. Barack Obama was seeking to become the DNC’s nominee for president of the United States. The second one also involved in Obama.
“The third one was Hillary Clinton, and that’s when I was the Whip for the Georgia delegation,” Howell recalled.
He pointed out that when he and his wife Latonya attended a delegate meeting back in 2008, neither of them had any idea what they were getting themselves involved with at the time.
“We didn’t understand a lot about how everything worked and we didn't expect to win,” explained Howell. “We learned that it was a caucus and you’re supposed to get all of your friends to go and they vote for you. We didn’t know those things until we get there. We had gone there because we wanted to get a lot more active in our community. We knew we wanted to do more than we had been doing in our community and that was how we became involved on a state and national level.”
Howell said he and his wife had to give a speech at the event, which was held at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro.
“It was funny because my wife ran as a Hillary delegate and I ran as an Obama delegate,” he said.
He said he and his wife looked at each other and they couldn’t believe they had been voted in as delegates.
“We couldn’t believe it because we just went to participate and see what it was all about,” he said.
Since then, the couple has enjoyed DNC experiences both on the state and national levels.
“We have gotten to see and meet some of the most intelligent people this nation has to offer, as well as to participate in some of the best workshops, etc. that can be offered,” he added.
Howell said he was looking forward to participating on a national level again this year.
“I’m always ecstatic to represent this community,” he said. “It’s great to know that we will be giving Georgia a voice on a national level. It means more to me than I can actually put into words. I’m just so humbled and honored to be representing Georgia, and in particular, the Milledgeville, Baldwin County area.”
Howell’s wife, Latonya, who serves as second vice chairwoman of the Baldwin County Democratic Committee, and also serves as a district director of the 10th District of Georgia Democratic Party and a member of the Georgia Democratic Committee, is looking forward to the upcoming DNC event, too.
“One of my favorite parts is attending the workshops at the convention because I find many of them so interesting,” said Latonya.
She explained that at the last DNC there were young people from around the country.
“They were promoting Rock the Vote at that time,” Latonya said. “It was just amazing to me to see all of these young voters. For a lot of them, it was their first time being able to cast their vote. They were so active and so excited. It was really something to see — their young energy.”
Latonya said she remembers running back and forth to every table there getting brochures to take back to Baldwin County so she could share what she had learned.
She said the workshops provide helpful information that can be implemented in local communities.
“It’s exciting to be part of something like the nomination process of possibly the next president of the United States,” Latonya said. “The good part, when you bring that information back, is that you are not reinventing the wheel, because if you have questions, it’s been done and proven to work elsewhere.”
Howell said he will support Joe Biden, who served as vice president to President Obama for two terms.
“We want to do everything we can do to get out the vote for Biden, because we know if he wins Georgia there is a very good chance he will become the next president of the United States,” Howell said. “If we can win Baldwin, we can win Georgia.”
For more than a decade, Baldwin County has played a significant role in choosing the president, he said.
Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, he said officials are still working on how the convention and will be carried out.
“A lot of things are in the works right now and some of those things are certainly subject to change,” he said.