Leslie Carey feels encouraged about the direction HCDP is taking in recent years. As first vice chair, her primary role is to support precincts and make sure the officers have the tools they need to involve their communities. To do this, she’s helped launch new monthly social events such as coffee on the second Tuesday and happy hour on the fourth Friday.
“The response has been encouraging,” Leslie said. “We have new faces and regulars as well. People are showing up. They want fellowship. They want to meet others with similar ideas and passions.”
Leslie points out that increased involvement is not just happening in Henderson County, but all across the state. “The state Dems have a strategy of year-round involvement,” she said. “Our new leaders value learning what people care about, and involvement also makes it easy to transition into finding volunteers and people who want to be active. This year, for example, we had a strong 4th of July parade and already have volunteers lined up for the Apple Festival. Another interesting thing I’ve learned is that Democrats in North Carolina used to have a tradition of ongoing involvement, so this movement is a revival of sorts.”
Leslie has a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and has worked as a clinical massage therapist and stress management consultant. She considers herself a forever student and is especially interested in kinesiology and outer space.
Growing up in Chicago, Leslie’s family was active in politics. “I had an uncle who was a judge and an alderman. I grew up being involved. I enjoy it.”
She continued to find ways to serve as an adult, volunteering as PTA president for example. She first became involved at HCDP by campaigning for Lyndsey Simpson, then became even more involved when her husband, Jay, ran for offices in 2021 and 2022. She also served as chair for NC District 11 Democrats from October 2022 through this spring.
Leslie and Jay own Appalachian Bounce House, a business that rents bounce houses for parties and other events. Together, they have four boys, with a 15-year-old and a four-year-old still at home. “I love my family, love being a mom,” Leslie said. “Jay and I both enjoy serving. He wears all the T-shirts all the time and fights the good fight.”
The Careys are directly involved with The Cell Phone Project, which supplies used phones to people who need them. “For unhoused people, it’s nearly impossible to get off the streets without a cell phone. It’s an incredible experience to meet people who went from being unhoused to having a home, largely because of phone access.”
Much like HCDP chair Michelle Antalec, Leslie has an optimistic perspective about Henderson County despite voting access obstacles put in place by the Republican controlled NC general assembly. “We’re a cohesive group and we’ve learned so much about how to have conversations with people from all perspectives. I want to serve as a liaison to make sure that the people are heard.”
Leslie is also an active member of the Henderson County Dem Women and the founder of the Jewish Democrats of NCDP, a branch of the Interfaith Caucus.