03/24/13 — County GOP meets, elects slate of leaders for the year

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County GOP meets, elects slate of leaders for the year

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 24, 2013 1:50 AM

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Credentials officers Jennifer Strickland, left, and Jane Williford count the delegates' votes during the Wayne County GOP Convention on Saturday.

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Republican political organizer Ann Sullivan speaks to members in her party during the Wayne County GOP Convention at the Wayne Center. Sullivan was elected to first vice chair position of the Wayne County GOP by the delegates at the convention.

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Jerry Grantham announces the new resolutions for the Wayne County Republican Party during the Wayne County GOP Convention at the Wayne Center. The only one voted on was one supporting the county commission's support of the U.S. Constitution's Second Amendment.

The biggest controversy during Saturday morning's business session of the 2013 Republican Convention centered around ensuring the integrity of secret ballot election was maintained after a second candidate was nominated for first vice chair of the party.

No new resolutions were put forth on the floor, except in support of the county commission's recent resolution supporting the Second Amendment, and the bulk of the two-hour session was taken up with speeches from elected officials.

Bob Jackson, party chair, was handily re-elected along with other unopposed candidates Jerry Grantham for second vice chair, treasurer Brent Health and secretary Melissa Watkins.

Former secretary Ann Sullivan also was running unopposed for the first vice chair slot -- until Friday. She said she learned Friday morning about the possibility of a "contentious" race, she said.

Commissioner Joe Daughtery made a motion from the floor, nominating Dave Meador for the same office.

Meador, he said, had served in the Air Force for four years, was a retired forestry instructor at Wayne Community College and had been a longtime active member of the Republican Party, previously serving as first vice chair and secretary.

Former commissioner and state representative Efton Sager placed Ms. Sullivan's name in nomination, noting that she had "earned the right" to the position.

"There's nobody in this party any more knowledgeable about how the Republicans should work than Ann Sullivan," he said. "There's not any candidate or any elected official in this place now that has not been helped by Ann Sullivan."

Andy Anderson, also a former commissioner, who sat next to Meador for the bulk of the business session, said that both candidates were worthy contenders, but seconded Sager's nomination supporting Sullivan.

Meador recalled moving to Wayne County in 1972 and being diplomatically urged to align with the Democratic party. He likened it to the "socialist party" and said that while he has no political ambitions higher than the local affiliation, pledged to do anything he could to further the aims of the Republican party.

Ms. Sullivan rattled off her years of accomplishments with the party -- which included making calls, typing letters, raising money and working on campaigns in Wayne County and across the state.

"I'm running for first vice chair because I want this job," she said. "I have helped with campaigns since I was 16 years old. That was 44 years ago.

"I don't make it any secret where I stand. We need a voice and yeah, I'm a loudmouth but I can back it up with facts. I don't mind speaking up on your behalf. I have done it before."

Because Meador's nomination had not been announced publicly in advance, his name was not on the pre-printed ballots. Delegates were instructed to write in his name if he was their choice.

But another hiccup came when precinct chairs were told they would be announcing results by roll call vote. Several protested, however, saying that would negate the secret ballot aspect, particularly in precincts with only one delegate.

It was proposed, and approved, to suspend the procedure and allow anonymous paper ballots to be collected and tallied.

The vote came down to 62 ballots cast, with a slight margin of victory reported less than five minutes later.

Ms. Sullivan won with 39 votes, while Meador received 23 votes.

Twelve at-large members were also chosen, including R.J. Allen, Andy Anderson, Dawn Anderson, Woody Anderson, Roger Buchanan, Danny Grant, Mark Humphreys, Fran Kasey, Sandy Korshun, J. B. Price, Joe Scott and Ervin Watts.

Despite the lackluster turnout, Sheriff Carey Winders likened it to NASCAR, suggesting the audience is readying in the pit for the next anticipated race, which is coming up in 2014.

"We're in the lead lap right now. We have got to stay on it," he said.

State Sen. Louis Pate continued the theme, urging the party to prepare for future victories.

"We have got a county commission that's united and committed and running hard," he said. "When you get the newspaper mad with you, you're probably doing a pretty good job."

State Rep. John Bell applauded the party for its "grass roots movement" that has replenished the political offices across the state with Republication representation.

"Wayne County for the first time since the Reconstruction, officially from top to bottom is red," he said. "We have a challenge ahead of us and the challenge is, how do we keep it? Stay active, stay involved."