03/15/09 — Wayne County Republicans elect new officers, seek new direction

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Wayne County Republicans elect new officers, seek new direction

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on March 15, 2009 2:00 AM

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Newly-elected Wayne GOP first vice chairman John R. Bell IV, left, talks with newly-elected party chairman Carroll Turner after Saturday morning's party convention at the Wayne Center.

In a vote that one candidate said would determine the course of the Wayne County Republican Party for the next several years, delegates met Saturday morning at the Wayne Center to select a new slate of officers.

In the only two contested races, Carroll Turner was elected chairman and John R. Bell IV was elected first vice chairman.

They were running against incumbent chairman Mark Corbett and Willie Ray Starling, respectively.

Both men ran on a platform of re-invigorating the party.

"I believe our Republican Party needs a new direction," Turner said. "This past election we didn't do that well and we didn't provide the support I think we needed for some of our local candidates.

"We need a new beginning. We need more Republicans and we need new Republicans."

And that's a goal shared by Bell, who promised to restart the Young Republicans group in an effort to work to bring more young people into the party's fold.

"It's time for the younger generation to step up and get involved, and I am that younger generation," Bell said. "We have a lot of young, conservative people out there."

He also said that the party needs to be more active in the community and work to make itself more visible. Especially, Turner said, as it faces a rejuvenated Democratic Party.

"I do think there are going to be some people who voted for (President Barack) Obama, who are going to be disappointed with his direction come November," Turner said.

But to take advantage of that, he continued, Republicans need to be more open to new members.

"We need to be more inclusive. We need to welcome in people who are Republicans," he said. "I'm afraid that in the past, people have been led to believe that if they had a different opinion on a sensitive issue, then they could just leave.

"There are going to be issues that from time to time we have a difference of opinion on, and we should be respectful of that. But I think 99 percent of conservative Republicans agree on most all issues."

What they're not going to do, however, Bell said, is try to move the party toward the left or the center -- as they were accused of during the morning's speeches.

"The Republican Party needs to be conservative," Bell said. "That's what it is."

And the only way they win, Turner continued, is by staying true to those principles and working together.

"If we're going to have any chance, we've got to work together," he said. "The Democrats are working, and unfortunately they're heavily caffeinated because they're energized by the last election. So we've got a lot do."

And with only 76 of the authorized 478 delegates present Saturday, they recognized they have a lot of work to do.

"I do get excited. I do get passionate. And we need some excitement back in the Republican Party and some passion back in the Republican Party," Bell said.

Also at the convention, delegates adopted a resolution supporting Israel and one asking the county commission to support the Defense of Marriage bill currently in the state Legislature.

Other speakers included county commissioners Andy Anderson and Steve Keen, state Rep. Efton Sager, state Sen. David Rouzer and Freedom Works member Robin Stout. Sheriff Carey Winders also reminded everybody that he would indeed be running for re-election in 2010.

Other officers selected include: second vice chairman Pat Graham, secretary Ann Sullivan, treasurer Iris Kilpatrick. At-large executive committee members selected were Hal Keck, Linda Brock, Sandy Korschun, Joe Daughtery, Ed Wharton, Pat Daly, Woody Anderson, Ervin Watts, Arnold Flowers, Deloris Sager, Fred Panashy and J.D. Price.