Tuesday, Jul 26, 2016
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Stainbrook's charge

If Jon Stainbrook is serious about creating a party that's clean, inclusive, decent, respected, and responsive to constituents, he must establish a new party credo

LUCAS County Republican activist Jon Stainbrook got his wish when the party chose him to lead it to the political promised land. Time will tell if he should have been more careful about what he wished for, but his defeat of incumbent party chairman Bob Reichert provides an opportunity for the local branch of the Grand Old Party to make a new start, one where honesty, hard work, and respect are the norm.

Change won't be easy. As if to underscore that point, shortly after Mr. Stainbrook's election, Joanne Wack, the former party executive director who stepped down in May after a 1989 felony conviction came to light, was discovered removing furniture and a computer printer from party headquarters. She said the items were hers, but a Stainbrook supporter said she saw Wack return a crate of headquarters documents to party offices after being confronted. More upsetting was what was found inside headquarters: disturbed offices, a still-warm paper shredder, and a wastebasket full of shredded financial documents.

Obviously, the road to health will be long and tortuous. But if Mr. Stainbrook is serious about creating a party that's clean, inclusive, decent, respected, and responsive to the needs of its constituents, he must establish a new party credo.

First, there must be no behind-the-scenes deals with Democrats - not any, not ever. And no dirty little deals designed to enrich themselves either, though we know there will be temptations.

Next, there must be a serious candidate recruited for every spot on the ballot, including finding Republican lawyers willing to contest Democratic judges. Republican judges won't much like that because Democrats will respond by challenging for their seats, but so be it. All candidates are better if they are opposed.

The candidate-recruiting process must be open, honest, and inclusive. And once recruited, they must be treated with respect, not called names, such as used to occur when a former party boss advised donors not to contribute to "meatballs" who had fallen out of his favor.

And the party has to reach out to constituencies it has largely ignored. Many African-Americans share the conservative social values of the GOP, and more than a few would welcome less government and lower taxes, but they vote Democratic out of habit and tradition. Inroads could be made among these voters.

It's also time state GOP officials got serious about demanding a party people can respect at the local level. In the past, they've been too comfortable with status quo in the form of the likes of James Brennan, Sr., and Tom Noe.

A good start could be made if Republicans Lynn Olman and Patrick Kriner resigned from the county Board of Elections and state central committee member Jonathan Binkley stepped down as well. That would allow the new county leadership to replace them with officials committed to a new way of doing party business.

If Mr. Stainbrook does these things, raising money - a perennial problem - will get easier. And while GOP candidates are not likely to unseat county Democrats, especially this year, they will plant the seeds that will bear the fruit of future victories.

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