BEAUMONT, Texas — The race for chair of the Jefferson County Democratic Party is heating up. Two Beaumont residents have announced they're running in the March 2020 primary.

Joseph Trahan and Ava Graves are set to go head-to-head for the seat. 

Graves is currently serving as the Jefferson County Democratic Party Chair. She took over in early November after Cade Bernsen stepped down from the position.

She served as planning and zoning commissioner for the City of Beaumont and founded Growing Community Inc., a nonprofit organization. Her husband, Dr. Rodney L. Graves, serves as senior pastor at McCabe Roberts Avenue UMC in Beaumont.  

Trahan is a Hamshire-Fannett High and UT Austin graduate, and is working to expand 'the Children's Center, Inc. into Jefferson County' according to his website. He is the son of Sgt. Howard J. Trahan, III of Beaumont Police Department and Dr. Fonda Woodsmall, Ed.D. according to the site. 

MORE | Jefferson County election information 

Below are the two candidates' statements to 12News: 

Trahan: "There are few things I’m as passionate about as the Democratic Party and seeing our candidates dominate at the polls. We are the last blue stronghold in Southeast Texas, and I’m ready to fight to keep it. I welcome the prospect of an opponent, but I must admit, I’m surprised that Ms. Graves decided to file. When she ran for interim chair, she indicated to the precinct chairs that she was only looking to fill the temporary position and not looking at 2020. I’ve stayed true to my word in that I’m in it for the long haul."

Graves: "I am running to inspire and inform Democrats to spread the party’s principles in a way that resonates with the needs of our county. 

I can help get qualified and credible Democratic candidates elected whose  platform and performance  enhances the lives of Jefferson County.

I have developed authentic relationships transcending ethnicity, culture, and bipartisan. I look forward to continuing serving the Democratic Party."

Jefferson County Democratic Party chair race heating up

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