The Surry County Republican Party held its annual convention Saturday in the Mount Airy High School Cafeteria with a large crowd in attendance.
The meeting was marked by robust debate and paper ballots being collected in the top of a cake pan before being counted. The convention also saw the election of Gary Tilley as new county party chairman over incumbent Dan Kiger.
Tilley was announced as winner by acting Convention Chairman Scott Cumbie, who is the Forsyth County GOP Chairman. He explained he presided over the meeting to avoid any conflict of interest issues which could arise from a current chairman presiding over his own re-election bid durnig the convention. Cumbie said Tilley had a majority of the 151 votes cast.
Susan Campbell won a majority of the 148 votes cast to be named vice chairman of the county party against her opponent, Zoe Claxton. Karen Noonkester will return as party secretary after capturing the majority of 146 votes cast over her opponent, Shawn Senter. Wanda Stanley was the sole nominee for party treasurer and will return at that post.
District Chairman David Ruden briefly spoke to the delegates before voting began at the convention.
“Reguardless of who is elected today we are all Republicans,” began Ruden. “We will stand together. The only way to win is one county at a time and Surry County will lead the way.”
At first Kiger told the delegates he preferred not to speak given that his opponent, Tilley, was ill and not able to attend. The delegates on the floor encouraged him to speak after Van Tucker, said he would speak on Tilley’s behalf.
“I will stand on our record,” said Kiger. “There is some strife within the party at this time but whatever happens I will be glad to sit across the table and re-unite with those party members and move on.”
Tucker said Tilley regretted not being able to attend and had a “24-hour bug.”
“It is his (Tilley’s) intent to run for chairman,” began Tucker. “I know Gary to be a kind and responsible man, a fine family man. He is a conservative who cares about conservative principles. He wants to bring out realigning and bridging within the party. He will bring a freshness of leadership. He wants to thank Dan Kiger for his job as chairman. We will leave here today as Republicans whatever happens.”
Sixth District U.S. Rep. Howard Coble and State Sen. Shirley Randleman also spoke to the convention participants. Coble began his speech by saying he was uneasy about the thought of an upcoming Democratic ticket featuring Hillary Clinton.
Coble said he had not decided if he would run for re-election and noted how he refused receiving a congressional pension.
“You all have paid my salary. You shouldn’t have to pay my pension. That seat (the the sixth district House of Representatives) doesn’t belong to Howard Coble. It belongs to you all in the sixth district,” said Coble. “I don’t expect for everyone to agree with me on every vote I make but If you didn’t agree with me on 85 percent of what I’ve done then you need to get another congressman.”
Randleman began by assuring the delegates that she and other Republicans in the General Assembly were “working hard in Raleigh to do the things you asked us to do. Democrats are already on the attack on federal, state and local levels.” She said she and other Republican colleagues were working to reduce government and regulations and noted the General Assembly must approve any changes to existing government agency regulations that stifle economic growth.
She told the delegates to look forward to an upcoming measure to be introduced that would require photo identification on voter IDs. She said Republican efforts to reduce spending were not aimed at children and elderly.
“Working class people cannot pay all the bills,” added Randleman. “Another issue I want to address is I support Second Amendment gun rights.” She told the crowd she has a concealed carry weapons permit and had learned the value of firearms through her involvement with the court system. She called for more judges who recognize the Second Amendment as a way to ensure property owners can protect themselves and their homes. Randleman told the group she has gotten in the habit of reading church marquees and bumper stickers during her travels.
“The bumper sticker I really like is the one that reads the bigger the government the smaller the citizen,” said Randleman. “You are the people. You should have the voice. I’m her to serve each and every person in Senate District 30.”
The most contested debate in the convention followed a measure adopting the state party’s plan of organization which was quickly adopted. A measure calling for the party’s selection of members-at-large to be the four local party officers and 29 others to be the precinct chairpersons was finally passed in a paper ballot vote. The original provision merely stipulated this group would be composed of the party officers and five or more additional members.
The convention wrapped up with a resolution honoring the service of the late State Sen. Don East being adopted. Randleman read the resolution and was accompanied to the podium by East’s daughter, Gina Southern, and son-in-Law Mickey Southern.
Bobby Lewis Jr. served as parliamentarian for the convention and A.J. Daoud was the Sargent at Arms.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.