Mending Fences: Natrona County GOP Elects New Leadership, Vows to Move Forward
The ballroom of the Ramkota Hotel was packed on Wednesday night, as the Natrona County Republican Party voted to appoint their executive committee for the next two years.
Given the rather tumultuous state of the Natrona County GOP as of late, due to the differing beliefs of the more 'conservative' and 'moderate' members, as well as its relationship with the Wyoming Republican Party, many of the speakers on Wednesday night spoke of unity and loyalty to the party.
Natrona County Republicans gathered to vote for the Members at Large, State Committeeman, State Committeewoman, Vice Chairman, Chairman, and Secretary.
More than 21 people vied for the position of Member at Large, with many individuals serving on various boards and with organizations throughout Natrona County.
Candidates spoke about party unity, the "dark forces of the left," increasing GOP voter turnout, and so more. Despite any potential 'tension' between moderate and conservative Republicans, most speakers spoke from their hearts about what they would like to see from the party, and how they could help it get there.
Susan Stubson won one of the eight seats for Member at Large and she spoke about how much work she has put into her various roles with the Republican Party.
"I'm a lifelong Republican," she said. "I've been a precinct committeewoman since I've been here. I've campaigned for candidates from every position, from precinct committee all the way up to Congress. I've knocked on thousands of doors. I've raised money for the party. I've raised money for candidates. I believe strongly in this party and the strength of this party to get candidates elected."
Jim De Golia was also awarded a seat as a Member at Large, and he wants to see the Natrona County GOP continue to produce good ideals, good solutions, and good people. He stated that his biggest mentor, Paul Harley, was one of President Ronald Reagan's most trusted advisors.
"He taught me a lot about lawyering, quite a bit about politics but, mostly, he taught me about how to be a good citizen and how to be successful at life," De Golia stated. "Things like, treat everybody with respect. Be truthful and demand truth of others. Hire smart people and remove barriers to their success. And, finally, focus on making a positive difference in your community, in your party, and for the country."
Kevin Taheri, the previous Chairman of the Natrona County GOP, opted not to run for that position again, but he did want to remain a part of the group, so he will serve as a Member at Large as well.
"It is my belief that the goal of this central committee is to elect Republicans that are chosen by the Republican primary voters," Taheri said. "And I'm proud to say that, for the third straight election cycle, every Republican on the ballot won in November, and that is thanks a lot to your hard work."
Taheri stated that, though there have been some differences of opinion among the group, he said that he hopes the Natrona County GOP was a safe space for people to express their opinions.
"In these last two years, we've had debates on some tough issues," he said. "A lot of debates on issues where we haven't always agreed. But I feel the debates were civil and it is my hope that everyone felt comfortable enough at these meetings to voice their opinions and to be heard."
Kim Walker, who was appointed State Committeewoman for the Natrona County GOP, stated that one of her goals as the Committeewoman is to mend the strained relationship with the Wyoming Republican Party.
"I believe we need to work with the state party to resolve our conflicts and then pay our county shares," she stated. "It's also important to know that paying our past shares will not automatically align us with the state, but it is vital that we mend what's broken. It's past time."
That is something that newly-elected Natrona County GOP Chairman Joe Macguire wants to do is well. Maguire closed out the evening with a few words designed to move the party forward and look towards the future.
"I think the message came through loud and clear," he stated. "We need to mend fences; both amongst ourselves and within the state. That will be priority number one. Priority number two will be getting back to knowing who we are, getting to know each other, and starting an open dialogue and looking forward to successful, pleasant meetings."
MacGuire said that he hopes everyone who came out to vote will continue to make their voices heard in future meetings, as he and the rest of the new executive committee take the reigns of the Natrona County GOP.
"We're gonna look forward to making this a better organization, and to continue to build the state and make it better for our kids," MacGuire concluded.
The following individuals were elected as the new Members at Large of the Natrona County GOP, along with their number of votes:
- Seat One - Kevin Taheri (133 Votes)
- Seat Two - Rob Hill (133 Votes)
- Seat Three - Annie Sanders (129 Votes)
- Seat Four - Susan Stubson (126 Votes)
- Seat Five - Amy Womack (126 Votes)
- Seat Six - Dale Warren (126 Votes)
- Seat Seven - Jim Da Golia (122 Votes)
- Seat Eight - Jim Belcher (98 Votes)
The following individuals were elected to leadership positions within the Natrona County GOP, along with their number of votes:
- Chairman - Joe MacGuire (128 Votes)
- Vice Chair- Stacey Zeidler (122 Votes)
- Secretary - Leslie Hendry (161 Votes)
- State Committeewoman - Kim Walker (121 Votes)
- State Committeeman - Joseph McGinley (127 Votes)