Chairman’s Corner by Scott McGraw

As we enter the holiday season, one can’t help but reflect back on the year. There’s something about the end of the year that makes us think about the future and to re-evaluate the present. As December approaches, I’ve been thinking about this first year as your chair and about our party’s future in the 2016 elections.

It’s been an eventful political year. I say political year because I will include the 2014 elections in the year of my term, which began in December. Technically, it began with my election at the November meeting of the Executive Committee.

We were coming off an election where Margaret O’Brien won the Kalamazoo Senate seat by 59 votes and I was elated personally. But I was also disappointed with the results in the Kalamazoo County Commission races where we had lost a seat and would be giving up control of the commission in January for the coming two years. We had a recount that had just been announced in the senate race and there was uncertainty with that.

Thankfully, Margaret added two more votes in the final tally of her race – 61 votes out of 80,400 ballots cast, just a .0076 percent margin of victory. But 60 votes was also the margin of victory for the Dems in the 10th District in Kalamazoo County, not as close with only 7,800 votes cast (only .85 percent) but it only takes a margin of one.

So we moved on after a couple weeks of wringing our hands and looking over our shoulders – and got to the work of the people. It’s been a pleasure to work with our state electeds. Margaret O’Brien, David Maturen, Brandt Iden and Aric Nesbitt are all hard-working and talented servants for the people of this county. It doesn’t matter if you are a Republican or Democrat, Independent or Libertarian. They serve all the people of Kalamazoo County to the best of their ability.

At the county level, I have greater concerns. The one-vote swing has enabled the Democrats the ability to push an agenda that has increased taxes and slapped bipartisanship in the face. There is more disfunction on our county board than the Kardashians had on their TV show. They’ve passed a homeless millage this past election and are considering putting up several more millages in this next year. The interview process for a new county administrator was an embarrassment. More than $50,000 spent on two separate searches to end up with a divisive, political decision was pathetic. The way County Treasurer Mary Balkema was treated during this process was unconscionable. The Democratic leadership at the county level is not working and it needs to be changed.

Kalamazoo County Republicans need to unite and work together to take back control of the county. Not only are we one vote short on the commission, but we are vulnerable with the county elected offices. The Democrats have the sheriff, the prosecutor and the drain commissioner. Rumor has it they are targeting the clerk’s race with a high profile former state representative that lost a very close senate race in the last cycle. As Republicans, we can’t afford to lose another countywide office. In fact, we need to win back one or two of the offices we don’t have currently.

This coming year needs to be one where Kalamazoo Republicans work together to achieve greater results. Through partnering with the state and national party on the Republican Leadership Initiative and putting our efforts into grassroots campaigning, I believe we can achieve our goals at the local level as well as the state and national levels. Being a Republican in Kalamazoo County means sticking up for what is right and being prudent with taxpayer money. In 2016, I believe we can put the people in elected office who can bring us those values and make the right decisions.