Chairman’s Corner by Scott McGraw

I am very encouraged and feel so blessed to be your chairman for the next 12 months. The end of my term coincides with next year’s election and I’m very optimistic about 2016 and the Republican Party. The third debate was last night as I write my column and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the event on television.

My Tea Party Patriot friends hosted a gathering at the 11th Street Grill (the old, Old Burdick’s) and I went with my friend and mentor John Zull. It was a great time as people would comment and interpret the responses in “real” time – not commenting by their computer or Twitter, but actually face-to-face!

It was a great night for many of the Republicans on stage and I am pleased that the GOP is offering ideas to deal with the problems in our federal government and not just ideas on how to spend more of our hard-earned tax dollars, like the Democrats are doing. The dialogue that these 14 individuals are generating is going to produce solutions when the election is over and we roll up our sleeves to get the work done.

The KGOP held our first Chairman’s Reception on Oct. 26 for the executive committee and high-achieving supporters and I am overwhelmed with the response from so many of the attendees. I hope this reception will turn into an annual event that we can all celebrate the achievements of our party in Kalamazoo County each year.

State Sen. Margaret O’Brien and County Treasurer Mary Balkema spoke at the event about “family.” We need to treat the Republican Party as one big family in Kalamazoo and work together to fight the injustice of bloated government and wasteful spending. Their heartfelt message was greeted with adoration and agreement. We must work together to get our message out and gather support at the polls.

The reality in Kalamazoo is that the Democrats outnumber the Republicans by a margin of 52-48, so we are challenged every time an election comes around – especially during presidential years, when the Dems turn it up a notch. By the numbers, there shouldn’t be as many Republicans elected in Kalamazoo County as there are. We are fortunate to have Republicans sitting in our senate seat and three of the four house seats in the county.

But after that, our ratio of success wains. We lost the majority on the county commission last year by 66 votes in one county district. We lost the prosecutor’s office in 2012. We lost the sheriff’s office in 2008. There hadn’t been anyone other than a Republican in that office for more than 100 years. Do I even need to bring up Kalamazoo or Oshtemo townships?

Things are changing in Kalamazoo and we need to change with times. It is going to take a concerted effort to gain back control on the county commission and at least one of the elected offices. And we have to keep our existing seats!.

To address these concerns, the Kalamazoo GOP is partnering with the State GOP and the Republican National Committee to host a Republican Leadership Initiative (RLI) to train grassroot volunteers how to be neighborhood and community captains and work with our structure in the county to help candidates get elected and re-elected.

The RLI will be held on Saturday, Nov. 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Republican Headquarters, 1911 W. Centre Ave., Ste. A, in Portage. It is a free event and we’ll provide you with a delicious lunch, too.

If you are interested in learning more, please give me a call at (269) 548-7004 or email me at scottmcgraw@icloud.com.