Joni Crane (Working AND having fun) at the Uintah County 2012 Lincoln Day Dinner, over 500 people met their elected officials or stayed for dinner and candidate speeches!
I’m “just a mom” from Vernal, Utah. Like many other people in the Uintah Basin, I have become frustrated with the political climate in our nation. My family, like many of yours, has been impacted by the Department of Interiors grab of oil leases that would have helped our economy here in the basin.
The mandate that all Americans purchase health insurance from a company in the red (the US Government), pay Cap and Tax energy fees, and bail out private companies – and even entire states – has my checkbook balance looking slimmer by the hour. Folks where I live are, (for the most part), great stewards of public lands and forests. We play with our children, camp with our families, provide food for the winter months, and find pleasure and relaxation fishing and camping. Being a Cub Scout leader, of course I love the outdoors, and I teach my scouts to be conscious of their impact on the environment.
So the million dollar question is, “What Can One Person Change”? Well, it turns out that it isn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I tend to lean Republican but had become disenfranchised by many of the GOP’s liberal ideas that made it hard to tell them apart from the Democrats in Washington DC. I wondered: “Do I really want to be a Republican anymore?” I re-read the platform of the Republican Party and realized it was not me that had strayed from the ideals listed, but the party itself that had strayed. Believing strongly in the stated platform, I decided to do my part to help my party return to its’ fundamental values.
My friend Verena has a favorite quote that goes like this “All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.” The seeds of today are my children as I see it, and I need to help get our country back on track today for them. That’s the only way I can see them blossoming into the adults I hope they’ll become. Because of those feelings, I made a call to a high ranking Uintah County GOP person and stated that I would like to be a bit more involved. I felt it was my patriotic duty. I am descended from eight Revolutionary War Patriots and it seemed the least I could do.
Time passed. I hoped they would give me some little job so I could feel like I was making a small difference. Not long after, sitting in a Vernal Band Booster club meeting, I received a phone call from a friend. She told me I would have to attend a lot more meetings since I was just “nominated and elected to the Uintah County Republican Party Central Committee.” “What? You’re kidding, aren’t you? Do you know my political views? I haven’t been happy with the GOP lately, I went to a Tea Party rally, I watch Glenn Beck, and to top it off, I just got my concealed weapons permit. Do you want to take a day and sleep on this?”
I was told there was room for me and my views on the Uintah County Committee, and I have been warmly welcomed by many people who serve on this committee and who I admire greatly. In the short time I have served on this committee, I have been shocked at how much I didn’t know about local, neighborhood politics. I worked in Washington DC for the Illinois Congressional Delegation and planned events in the U.S. Capital, but had no idea how a neighborhood caucus meeting worked.
So here’s the skinny: Every neighborhood has a precinct area. It is defined on a map by the county. There are about twenty-six precincts in Uintah County alone. On March 23rd of this year, each precinct in the state will hold a caucus meeting at 7 pm. The locations will be announced in your local paper. At this neighborhood caucus, a Precinct Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer will be elected. Also at this meeting State Delegates and County Delegates will be elected. (In some precincts, turnout is so low that they cannot fill all four officer positions and officers serve as delegates as well.)
State delegates attend the state convention (on May 8th this year) and will be voting on state-wide races – governor, Congressman, Senator and the state officials whose districts cross multiple counties. The county delegates attend their county convention (this year, Uintah and Duchesne counties are holding theirs on April 20). They vote for people holding county-wide positions – county commissioners, sheriff, etc. If you are one of the few people who actually attend your neighborhood caucus, you are VERY likely to be elected to one of these positions.
If you are a delegate, you make a big difference by helping select local and state officials who will run for election. If any one delegate receives more than 60% of the delegate’s votes, they do not have to run in a primary. That person is automatically the party candidate. It is that simple. Your one vote could mean the difference between a costly primary or a party nominee who won at convention.
So, the next time we all want to moan about what awful people are representing us, we need to take a good look at our calendars to see what was so important on Caucus Night that we couldn’t leave our house for a few minutes to make the world a little better. By deciding what you believe now, you’re in a position not only to influence the election, but to be agents of change in your very own neighborhood and community.
You will have an opportunity to scrutinize every issue at stake today, to decide which ones matter to you and to cast your vote confidently in order to create the world you want to live in and want your children to inherit.
Update: Since writing this article I have been elected as the Uintah County Chairman, was elected to serve as the 2nd District Congressional Rep to the UTGOP Executive Committee and am currently serving as the 1st District Congressional Rep to the Executive Committee.
Also, I was just elected as an Alternate National Delegate and will be heading to Tampa for the 2012 National Convention. I have stayed true to my commitment to get Platform Republicans elected and to try to influence those who have lost their focus to recommit to the principles our founders embraced. One person can actually make a difference, if I can, you can. Just do it.