A new team is set to guide the Shelby County GOP. At the convention yesterday at the Bartlett Municipal Hall, Mary Wagner was elected chairman. Her slate for the rest of the officers passed as well. They are:
First vice chairman Lee Mills
Second vice chair Rebecca Parsons
Third vice chair Geoff Diaz
Fourth vice chair Lindsey Donovan
Treasurer John Niven
Vice Treasurer Jeff Jacobs
Recording secretary Sharon Ohsfeldt
Vice recording secretary Nancy Boatright
Corresponding secretary Katie Pickler
Vice Corresponding secretary Amy Stanfill
This represents a lot of new blood in the party.
In her pre election speech, Ms. Wagner outline three areas that she wants to pursue for the party. First, she wants to increase fund raising beyond the Lincoln Day Dinner. Then she wants to make sure elected officials are in touch with the party and that we get good people to run. Lastly, she noted that the local clubs are the boots on the ground for the party and she wants to help increase membership and participation in them. She also The stressed that the basics of the party – limited government, liberty, individual responsibility and free markets – will be emphasized in her administration.
Contrary to what was reported in The CA this morning, Chairman Wagner was available for comments. The CA reporter probably just wanted to phone it in. Bill Dries of the Daily News and Jackson Baker of the Flyer were there.
The mechanics of the convention worked better this year than in the past. Each precinct chairman was handed a ballot. After getting the votes from delegates, each reported to one of seven tally stations around the room where the information was entered into the computer. As results came in, they were projected onto a screen so that delegates could see the voting. They were also updated on Shelby GOP website. It was quickly apparent that Wagner prevailed easily over her opponent, Arnold Weiner, by about 3 to 1.
After her election, Chairman Wagner took over and the election of officers proceeded. Each made a four minute or less speech, clocked by Contest and Credentials official Jim Newsom. The speeches ranged from laundry lists of GOP bona fides to the bizarre. One candidate admitted he did not seek his office and really didn’t care about it, but was nominated by a friend so there he was. He did not win. Another mentioned he had worked for Jeb Bush in Florida, then proceeded to ask in Spanish how many people spoke that language. When only one person raised his hand, he commented that proved his point of needing more minorities. Not sure how the Jeb Bush connection helped him in a conservative audience, but then he mentioned he had campaigned for Herenton. He lost, too. So did the woman who said she had worked for the GOP for 150 years. Funny, but maybe that wasn’t quite the asset she thought it would be.
Once the votes were tallied for that, we moved on to the District Rep positions. Each district huddled with members and decided upon their representative for the GOP Steering Committee. Michael Gilroy was elected in Midtown’s District 90.
It was a well run convention. Noticeable was the absence of the Tea Party as a force. In 2011, Tea Party members were vocal and caused many disruptions, protesting the way voting took place. There was a residual of them in 2013, but this year, no one challenged the GOP chairman candidates. It’s not that their influence was a bad one; it’s just that they seem more incorporated now into the party.
It’s always good to have new ideas and new people wanting to participate in our party. We will now have to concentrate on the 2016 and 2018 elections and Chairman Wagner has indicated she will focus on them. Chairman Justin Joy in his closing remarks commented that our Shelby GOP has done remarkably well in the past two elections. We won a majority of positions even though we are outnumbered by Democrats by 100,000. “Hard work and team effort” he credited for success.
We’ll have to continue that and with our new leadership, it looks like we will.