By Gail Marvel
MONTROSE-On Feb. 8, 2017 the Montrose County Republican Party (Central Committee) held their organizational meeting for the election of officers.
Scott Riba, who has served as Chair since August of 2015, opened the meeting by thanking everyone for their support and recapping the accomplishments of the last year and a half.
Riba acknowledged that the transition in leadership resulted in hurt feelings and a lot of things being said within the party that cannot be taken back. Citing personal frustration that some members of the party and the media (the Mirror) had mischaracterized his leadership style, Riba announced he would not seek reelection.
The meeting proceeded with nominations, voting and election of officers. While each round of ballots was being tallied the floor was open for members to address the party. Those speaking made a conscious effort to address problems and factions without causing more division.
Brian White said, “There were individuals in the community who had bad things to say about the Tea Party. The majority of the Tea Party people were doing the work. I’m ashamed of anyone in here who wouldn’t reach out to the Tea Party.” Referring to draining the swamp on the federal level White said, “We’ve got a swamp here. It’s in s*** trouble!”
Tricia Joy said, “I found myself being polarized…I didn’t have enough information.”
Speaking of the divided party Montrose County Sheriff Rick Dunlap said, “The only way to put it back together is respect. No matter what office you’re in, you make decisions. I make decisions for 42,000 people. I show them respect and I get respect in return. You don’t demand respect…you earn it.”
Nominees were given five minutes to address the audience and answer questions. Vetting the nominees included; wanting to know what, if any, role the nominee felt they played in the division of the party and what they would do to bring the party back together.
Proxy votes were not allowed and of the 66 members qualified to vote, only 40 were present to cast ballots. The positions for Chairman, 2nd Vice Chair and Secretary were unopposed. The position for 1st Vice Chair pitted Spencer Hamner against Dave Laursen, with Hamner winning the seat.
Five candidates were nominated to fill two position for Bonus Members. Barb Hulet withdrew her name from consideration and threw her support behind to Kay Heinschel. Candidates Rick Fellabaum and Doug Casebier also withdrew their names, which left Heinschel and Dianna Coram as the only nominees. Hulet then asked to “withdraw her withdrawal” and be reconsidered as a nominee.
When questioned about her abrupt change of mind Hulet said, “I feel like we need a good conservative representative.” Insinuating there were issues in the past when Hulet served as a Bonus Member she said, “I don’t know if I should say what I’ve seen because it might incriminate someone.” In the first round of voting Coram and Hulet tied with 19 votes each and in the following vote Coram was elected. Bonus Members are Dianna Coram and Kay Heinschel.
Referring to the innuendo and withdrawing the withdrawal, a non-voting member said to the person sitting next to him, “And that’s what causes the division!”
Those elected to serve two-year terms:
Chair – Geoff Schram
1st Vice Chair – Spencer Hamner
2nd Vice Chair – Dave Laursen
Secretary – Charlie Oswald
Bonus Members – Kay Heinschel, Dianna Coram
The Treasurer is an appointed, rather than elected position.
Three of the recently elected officials for the two year terms (Schram, Hamner and Oswald) have extensive political backgrounds in other locations; however, they are relative newcomers to Montrose with their residence ranging from 4 ½ years to 1 ½ years.
On February 8, 2017 Geoff Schram was elected as the new Chairman for the Montrose County Republican Party Central Committee.