Henry County Republican Party selects new officers

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

It’s about a year away from the election season for county and state offices, but the Henry County Republican Party is not letting 2015 go to waste.

The county convention took place March 14 and the result was a new slate of officers, with the top spot going to Vicki Temple, who was elected chair from more than 50 participating voters. While admitting that conventions at the local level can at times be contentious, she said this one was far from it.

“It was a great convention,” she said. “It went very smoothly.”

Now that the local party leadership is nailed down, the task at hand is to prepare for the 2016 elections.

“We want to make sure we have good Republican candidates that will be running for any positions that come open,” she said, noting in particular the county commission and school board races that will be taking place next year.

Another priority with those elections still more than a year away is strengthening the GOP presence in the county’s voting precincts as well increasing the number of Republican voters.

“We are going to start a voter registration drive to get ready for 2016,” said Temple. “We want to have someone established in every precinct, to be a go-to person in that area.”

Republican strength in Henry County has been a given for the past two decades, and it has historically been the seventh-largest Republican county in the state. Bruce Holmes, the current commissioner from District 5 who was elected in 2010, is the only Democrat to sit on that board since 1996. No Democrats have won any other county races during that time.

But recent results in statewide races, such as the 2014 general election in which gubernatorial challenger Jason Carter and U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn won a majority of Henry County votes, have not gone unnoticed by local GOP leaders.

“There has absolutely been a surge [in Democratic voters],” said Temple, citing the county’s overall explosive growth in the 2000s and the likely fact that a lot of those new residents fled Clayton County after its school system lost accreditation. “We knew changes were taking place and we really were expecting that. Our challenge will be maintaining the Republican majority in Henry County.”

The local party meets the first Tuesday of each month in the community room of the county’s public safety annex on Zack Hinton Parkway in McDonough. While the numbers at those meetings swell during county election years, Temple noted that it is important to get involved well before that.

“All politics are local, and local legislation is always happening,” she said. “Your congressmen and state legislators work for you. If you want to have a rapport with them, this is an excellent way to establish that. Getting involved in your local Republican party gives you access to those candidates and helps you get educated on the issues.”

The county party does not get behind individual candidates until after the primaries. Local officers like Temple will support their candidates individually even in the primaries, but not officially.

“The people in the local party are your grassroots workers,” she said.

Even though a number of Republicans locally may disagree on certain issues, such as the current Board of Commissioners and the county’s legislative delegation, Temple said those can be overcome and the party can move forward as a whole.

“We’re all very independent minded and never will agree on everything,” she said. “Hopefully we all share the same basic principles.”

The Henry County Republican Party maintains a web site where important information is posted regularly. That address is www.henrygop.org.