New RNC Site Touts Cities

The RNC has a new website chock full of information on candidates, articles, blogs and solutions called www.citygop.org. The banner on it reads “A New Day for America’s Cities,” with the explanation “The GOP fares poorly in cities – but it doesn’t have to. Learn about the problem, potential solutions, and join in our effort.
With your help, America’s cities can have a brighter future.” There is a facebook page along with twitter for this site.

Not too long ago they did a profile of Midtowner Geoff Diaz:

Memphis is not just a city with great BBQ and fine music. It’s also a city with an active Republican Party and exciting Republican candidates. In the next two profiles, CityGOP features two city candidates in Memphis. The first candidate is Geoffrey Diaz, running for Shelby County Commissioner.

Geoffrey Diaz has been a Republican his whole life. He supports the Party’s view that the government should be responsive to the citizens. And, he considers Republican issues like fiscal responsibility and strong national defense as critically important to support a thriving democracy.

In order to make inroads in cities, Geoffrey recommends that Republican candidates listen and talk to everyone, and not just Republicans. He explains, “If the message is right and you can deliver it appropriately, you can win people’s vote. If you can connect with them and can relate to them, you will win that vote.”

But first, Geoffrey recommends that Republicans and potential candidates become civically involved. “That is the way to have influence in cities and neighborhoods.” By way of example, Geoffrey became involved with a founding of a non-partisan voter education club. He lined up speakers to talk about issues so that voters were informed.

Geoffrey’s civic involvement expanded to the founding of the Hispanic Republican Alliance. With the Alliance, he created a place where Hispanics can have a conversation with Republicans and learn more about the Party. Members of the Alliance attend meetings in the community, including picnics, festivals, and church services, and spread the message of the Republican Party. Geoffrey cites a goal of the Alliance as making sure Hispanic residents are registered to vote.

In reflecting on the policies that should comprise a Republican urban plan, Geoffrey recommends focusing on education, jobs, and workforce development. “We have an educational system that enables some students to graduate high school who are unprepared for college and work,” he explains. Geoffrey suggests policies which create jobs for all types of workers – from those requiring “high-skills” to those needing only a little training. To that end, Geoffrey would like to see vocational education at the high school level. “Students could immediately start making money and not get buried in debt,” he explains. “While they are growing in their jobs right out of high school, they are also in the position to start saving for the future too.”

Then another profile is of Kristoffer Adams who is with the College Republicans and a research assistant at the U of M. He writes:

I am a determined person. This is a characteristic that I have held since childhood. That determination was not always so plain to others. In my lifetime, I have been labeled a lost cause, an underachiever, a failure. I dropped out of high school to work. I went through a major layoff. I worked at hand to mouth jobs for years. I was continuously unemployed during the Great Recession. I have had my fair share of difficulties, but through perseverance, determination, and community support I was able to raise myself to new levels. My determination was fostered by many of the people in my life. The most notable individual would be my grandfather, King Solomon Adams, who lived a life that demonstrated exactly what community should be.

He was a man who gave everything that he could to his neighbors. He gave time and money to the local church to reach out to the people that he did not have a chance to meet. Solomon taught me the value of community. He allowed me to see the value in all people despite circumstance.

After several family tragedies, I began to rebel. The education system did little to help. For most of my teenage years, I bounced from house to house and school to school. When I settled in Memphis, TN at what would become my last high school, I thought that I had become a disregarded student.

There was little help available to me. There was no incentive for me to attend a class. The year I should have graduated is the year that I dropped out because despite having completed coursework at other institutions the administrative staff classified me as a sophomore. I lost more than two years of work and no one wanted took initiative to correct the problem, even after it was brought to their attention.

I felt that I only had two options: stay in a system that did not care about me or begin to work and support myself.

That’s why I chose to work. Working was excellent for an extended period of time. I made good money doing what I loved. Then tragedy struck. Mismanagement in the corporate office caused the corporation to collapse and massive layoffs ensued. I and everyone around me lost what we considered long term employment. Year after year I rotated through multiple low paying jobs. In 2004, I was forced to consider my education status.

It was that same year that I received my GED, guided by a program based out of the local community college. When I completed the program, I still did not feel as though I was utilizing my talents to their fullest.

In Spring 2009, my future wife encouraged me to begin studying at the University of Memphis. I was skeptical at first. The university was not something that I had thought about, but the recession had taken a toll on me. I was also unemployed, having been either over or under qualified for every position to which I applied. With these things in mind, I applied for admission to the University of Memphis. I was accepted and admitted to begin that fall semester.

I entered the Criminal Justice program with hope that I would be able to apply my degree to help the community in which I was raised. The Department offered me the opportunity to work with the School House Adjustment Program Enterprise (SHAPE). SHAPE offers troubled teenagers across Shelby County the opportunity to stay out of the juvenile justice system and encourages them to stay in high school. The only requirement is that they must complete the program successfully. I feel very passionate about this program. During my tenure, the program has seen its greatest results since its inaugural year.

The same department has allowed me the privilege of working with the Offender Re-Entry program. This program hopes to help citizens leaving prison to reintegrate into their communities. The goal is to reduce recidivism while educating these men and women so that they can have better lives. Through these programs I have seen first hand the effect that government and politics has on our citizens. It was seeing that connection that inspired me to get involved in the political process.

That next semester I began to work voluntarily with the university’s branch of the College Republicans. In spring 2013 I was voted in as the president of that branch. Under my leadership we hosted more events, and reached out to more students than that branch had in prior years. My hard work paid off, but I knew that I wanted to participate in my community as well as my school. This desire led me to reach out to prominent members of the Republican Party.

Although I was a little leery at the time, I wanted to make a difference. The principles demonstrated by local Republican positions corresponded almost precisely with my own. My thoughts on economic policy and the need for smaller government were issues being pursued and addressed aggressively by Republicans.

I, along with local leaders and university mentors, began pursuing a more efficient education system that would work for children and not against them. Legislation was drawn up in support of Opportunity Scholarships, vouchers that would effectively pay tuition so that children from impoverished areas would receive the same quality education as their more affluent peers. A colleague and I, because of our mutual passion, wrote two op-ed pieces for Memphis’ Commercial Appeal. We each wrote about the scholarships and what they could mean for the city of Memphis. With this piece I had hoped to reach a wide range of citizens. I wanted them to feel invested in this cause. I wanted them to feel the sense of urgency.

Not long afterwards, the Opportunity Scholarship initiative failed by a small voting margin. It was the first time in my life that I distinctly saw the importance of a vote. As involved as I had become, I still had not participated in the voting process. I did not feel that my vote meant much. Many, if not all, of the people that I spoke with outside of work and political circles felt the same way. They did not think that their vote mattered. The failing of Opportunity Scholarships changed that for me. It showed me that every vote matters; that every person elected to office, whether local, state or federal, affected what happened in the day to day lives of everyone.

This year will mark the first election cycle that I have ever voted. I am excited, but I recognize that excitement is not common. This experience has invigorated me. I want every individual to understand that part of their responsibility in their community is to vote. I want to educate people on the importance of voting. I want individuals to gain a sense of responsibility so that they can take their neighborhoods back and take control of the future for themselves and their children.

Education has always been a passion, but I have just now realized the scope of that passion. I want to participate in educating my community, my city, in every way possible. I want to impact citizen’s quality of life in such a way that everyone benefits. With the Republican Party, I know that this is possible.

... Leave a Reply