WAUSEON - During the presidential election campaign last fall, young Republicans manned phone banks, cheered candidates at rallies, and posted political signs in yards.
Grabbing hold of that enthusiasm and building on that momentum, Republicans in the area formally started a new organization. The Young Republicans Club of Fulton County, chartered last year, recently held an organizational session to elect officers and set the group's direction.
Elected were Alan Miller, of Archbold, chairman, Marcus Bowling, vice chairman, and Jeff Fryman, secretary/treasurer.
"We are going to be active and aggressive in promoting and preserving conservative issues, ideals and values," said Mr. Miller. "The Ohio Young Republicans platform is pretty consistent with our values, so we will use that as a guide when working with volunteers and lawmakers to ensure these conservative ideals and values are not neglected in Columbus. One of our goals is to continue making the conservative voice in Fulton County a strong one."
Fourteen clubs are chartered with the Ohio Young Republicans, but more clubs are being organized, said Nick Wahoff, chairman of the state group. The goal is to have 20 clubs by May when the state convention is held, he said.
Fulton County's voters include 4,063 Democrats, 7,705 Republicans, and 16,793 Independents. The number of Independents includes about 2,000 newly registered voters, said Kathy Meyer, deputy director of the county's Board of Elections. A voter doesn't have to declare a party affiliation when registering.
Denis Logan, Fulton County Democratic chairman, said that he hopes to get a Young Democrats club started in the county. "We do have the paperwork," he said. "We are trying to recruit more people to the party."
Fulton County's Young Republicans will organize family-style events and community-service activities, said Mr. Miller, an associate pastor in Leipsic. Mr. Bowling, 30, of Wauseon, is senior editor of the Fulton County Expositor newspaper, and Mr. Fryman, 35, of Archbold, is operations manager of Black Swamp Rentals.
Age wise, the club targets those in the 18-40 range. "Since September we've noticed a lot of interest as far as that age group," said Mr. Miller, 39.
Club members will work together with the Republican central committee in the county. Young Republicans can add "new energy" to the committee, he said. Most committee members are older than 55, he said.
"You need a good mix of experience and energy. The longer you're in politics, the older you get. Sometimes the energy is just not there. For the life of the party, we are definitely looking to get younger people involved," said Mr. Miller, who is on the executive committee of the central committee.
Sandra Barber, Republican central committee chairman in Fulton County, said it was refreshing to see so many young people active in the presidential campaign, and it is terrific that the new club is going to try to capitalize on that momentum.
It's been many years since a Young Republicans group was active in the county, she said. Before moving here, she was active in the Defiance County Young Republicans.
During a Young Republicans state convention in Akron years ago, she met James Barber, a Young Republicans delegate from Fulton County. The two Young Republicans later married.