Tuesday, May 20, 2008

GOP officials explain convention process

Guest Opinion: GOP officials explain convention process
printed in the Daily Herald
May 20, 2008
by Stan Lockhart and Marian Monnahan

Utah is a great state with strong representation. We are recognized regularly as a great place to raise a family, start a business and obtain a good job. While many states are in the midst of huge budget deficits, Utah has record surpluses. We've been named the best-managed state in the nation. We have a lot to be proud of, and much of the thanks should go to our Republican elected officials who hold fiscal responsibility at the forefront of their policy making.

Utah County specifically has also benefited from strong local leaders and citizens.

During the last few weeks, a couple of legislative candidates and their supporters have made claims that the Utah County Republican Party process is unfair. Now that conventions are over, we'd like to respond.

The county party is made up of over 1,200 delegates who attend one convention per year to nominate candidates, elect party officers and modify, if necessary, the party's rules, bylaws, platform and constitution. A central committee made up of a subset of about 600 delegates meets four times per year. Only these groups can change party documents.

Party rules haven't changed substantially in Utah County over the last 20 years or more, nor has the application of the rules, particularly in the areas that have been disputed. The Utah County Republican Party and the convention are staffed 100 percent by hundreds of volunteers -- good men and women who make a positive difference for the benefit of our county. These volunteers are people of high character and integrity, and we believe they acted in accordance with the rules to the best of their ability.

It has been suggested that party leadership is conspiring with volunteers to violate the rules. This just isn't true, and frankly, the internal party process would not allow for such acts.

In the weeks preceding a convention, there are many moving parts. A great deal of time is spent passing out copies of the rules and explaining them to both candidates and volunteers. All in the party work hard to follow the rules.

There is an appeals process within the party when a perceived mistake happens that allows a candidate's complaint to be heard. This process has worked well for decades. This year, claims have first been made in the media and then selectively at times to the party. Unfortunately, use of this tactic has spread rumor and innuendo -- unfairly maligning those they accuse.

The number of complaints to the media this year have been many, while those actually brought to the formal appeals process have been few. In each case, a sincere effort to accommodate the concerns of those making the complaints was made following established processes. Virtually anything -- from how delegates are elected and replaced, to where they must live, to how ballots have been counted -- may be appealed.

Within the party, volunteers familiar with the rules hear the complaints. The person who makes a complaint is allowed substantial time to make their case. The appeals body then discusses the complaint and the rules surrounding it. A decision, arrived at by using the rules and bylaws of the party as a foundation, is made.

In the current nominating process, the complaints have been found to be without merit.

Something positive has resulted from the complaints. A comprehensive review of party rules is now on the table. We also intend to review our volunteer training procedures and the process whereby the rules are discussed with candidates. Any ambiguities in the current rules that are clarified can only strengthen confidence and participation in the political process that is so important to our state.

A great deal of thanks are owed to the hundreds of volunteers who devote their time to the process of selecting Republican candidates for office, and we offer them our heartfelt appreciation.

• Stan Lockhart is a former Utah County Republican Party Chair and current Utah Republican Party Chair. Marian Monnahan is the current Utah County Republican Party Chair.

No comments: