Chairman’s Corner by Scott McGraw

What a month for the Kalamazoo GOP! After months of planning and preparation, the 120th annual Kalamazoo GOP Lincoln Tribute Dinner was a resounding success!

Our speaker, Congressman Kevin McCarthy, was an incredible speaker and had a great message that tied in so well with our event. The night was a celebration of our party’s heritage and its first elected president, Abraham Lincoln. Congressman McCarthy kept right in script by talking about the past, including Lincoln and – his personal favorite – Ronald Reagan. Portraits of both men hang in his office and, he says, consults with them many a night sitting alone at his desk.

Of course, a big event like our Lincoln Tribute Dinner takes many, many volunteers and this year is no different. We had more than 40 people volunteer their time and efforts to the cause for a great LTD and I thank each and every one of them. There are a handful that deserve special recognition: Jim Frey and SonJalita Hulbert for their efforts on the Silent Auction; Tony Dugal for his general advice and great photography skills and; especially, Bev Solik for her exceptional organization and attention to detail. She kept me on task and helped all of us to focus on each of our roles for the event.

I also want to congratulate Rose Dame and Fred Taylor on being given the Chairman’s Service Award winners for 2015. It is people like Rose and Fred that make this party special. Not only do our members uphold the values that have made our country great, they are dedicated and hard-working volunteers who help us achieve our goals. On behalf of the membership of the KGOP, I thank this year’s award winners. They join four other special people who have received the award since its inception in 2013: John Allen, Mary Ellen Agar, Al Heilman and Polly Youngs. What a great group of people to be surrounded by.

A few more people I need to thank are Fred Upton, Margaret O’Brien and Brandt Iden. Through Fred’s relationship with Kevin McCarthy, we were able to get a nationally recognized speaker to come to Kalamazoo. He even got Kevin to join the local party! How many county parties can boast of such a noble membership? I can only think of two. Margaret O’Brien and her staff were able to procure Special Tributes for our awardees signed by the governor and all the local state officials. It is a great honor to have someone as special as Margaret working for the improvement of our party. And, finally, Brandt Iden. What a wonderful job he did as our Master of Ceremonies! I was probably most nervous about Brandt’s role in this event. We spent about five minutes discussing the event the night before. “Don’t worry about it,” he said as he walked out of the office. “It’ll be fun.”

Well, it was a night to remember and I’m thankful for all the help that went into the KGOP’s biggest night of the year.