By Jesse Wood
March 14, 2013. The Watauga County Republican Party annual convention takes place on the morning of Saturday, March 16, at the Watauga County Courthouse.
The convention is open to all registered Republicans, who will then vote for officers for the local GOP party.
In an release emailed Thursday morning, the WCRP listed its recommendation of officer candidates that were submitted by the party’s nominating committee and then approved by the WCRP’s executive committee.
The approved recommendations are as follows:
- Chair: Anne Marie Yates
- Vice-Chair: Victoria Smith
- Treasurer: Adrian de Keyzer
- Secretary: Myra Scoggins
However, a small faction of registered Republicans – who requested anonymity – is stirring up the pot by advocating an outside candidate, and the turmoil over this issue has even spilled over into a few posts on the local blogosphere at A Watauga Conservative.
That outside candidate to be considered on the floor at the convention is Casey Miller, 37, of Zionville.
Miller said he has been involved in the Republican Party since he was 17 years old and said he doesn’t mind bucking the establishment.
“I feel like the issues haven’t been bucked enough sometimes. Things have been kind of status quo – Maybe too much going through the motions. Too much holding fundraisers and getting to the next Lincoln Day Dinner and the next parade instead of doing something to take on real things people are concerned about,” Miller said.
He added that the reason he is running for Vice-Chair is because he said the rural population of Watauga County is disenfranchised.
“Recently, I felt like the party has kind of abandoned the core base, especially, the voters outside the city limits and has not put any focus on real issues. This is the local branch of the party. It should be focused on more local issues instead of creating appreciation resolutions,” Miller said, referring to a few of the resolutions that were recommended by the committees to be considered on Saturday.
Miller said he – and a certain small faction of rural conservatives backing the candidate – have also worked on four resolutions to be considered on the floor at the annual convention this Saturday.
1. Water: Miller said the Town of Boone is trying to take water from county residents and the county representatives didn’t require the Town of Boone to build infrastructure and supply water to county residents
2. ETJ: Miller said the party hasn’t done anything to encourage representation of ETJ residents at the state level.
3. One-Stop Voting: Miller said he is asking for one-stop voting at all of the precincts, conceding though that it may not be feasible due to funding restrictions
4. Redistricting County Districts: Miller said he’s asking commissioners to upgrade county districts to redistrict Watauga to “more fairly represent our current demographics.” He said some districts run right to the edge of town into neighborhoods that are practically suburbs of the town, yet have a totally different character – and therefore different concerns – than rural areas such as Bethel, Cove Creek and Zionville.
“These are items that affect local lives,” Miller said.
Miler didn’t have any harsh words for his opponent, Victoria Smith, but he did say that he was the “better candidate.”
“I am a better candidate because I am actually connected to the area. I have a better understanding of local issues,” Miller said, adding that he has served on the executive committee of the WCRP in the past but has been inactive the past couple years.
This recent inactivity is something that has been held against Miller’s candidacy.
WCRP Chairman Matthew Snyder couldn’t be reached on Thursday, but current Vice-Chair Tommy Adams said that the executive and nominating committee are advocating for candidates who are “informed and involved.”
Speaking of Miller, Adams said, “I know the name and I know the face, but I haven’t seen him involved. It’s about what’s best for the party. We welcome his input and his leadership down the road if he proves he is committed and capable of leading.”
But Adams noted that if the delegates at the convention votes for Miller, “Then I can guarantee you the current leadership is going to behind the Republican Party and the officers the convention elects.”
“What we are trying to do is bigger than a specific individual,” Adams said, adding that the party branches out to many different areas of Watauga County to represent a broad demographic of Watauga County Republicans.
“We want everybody to be involved. We are a big-tent organization in Watauga Count,” Adams said. “We welcome Casey’s involvement and anybody else, but when it comes to leadership positions we are advocating for those informed and involved.”
Yesterday night on A Watauga Conservative – where more times than not a poster uses an anonymous handle, Miller posted on a “Vent Page” that officials with the Watauga County Republican Party “have done nothing to inform citizens” about the upcoming convention on Saturday morning.
“If the current officers of the executive committee aren’t trying to further disenfranchise the Republicans of this county, and they aren’t trying to completely kill my party, then why have they not even listed the annual convention on the Watauga GOP website?” Miller wrote.
His post must have been partially heard because on Thursday morning, a release was emailed out to folks – who are subscribed to an email blast – about the upcoming convention and details of the recommended candidates for office, although it wasn’t found on WCRP’s website.
But Adams, who said he spoke with Snyder, maintained that an ad for the convention was placed in the Watauga Democrat on March 3 and a notice was put in the Blowing Rocket on March 7. He also said that the release sent on Thursday morning encouraged all registered Republicans to attend.
“We have a very open process,” Adams said, adding that the convention takes place on the same month every year.
In response to Miller’s post on A Watauga Conservative (scroll to bottom), someone with an anonymous handle, posted:
“Casey, when you called me and asked [me] to support you in running for an office, I was unsure. Now, seeing you use a public forum to attack fellow Republicans, I have made up my mind. I will support the recommendations of the nominating committee. The current officers you criticize here are the same officers that have brought our party such success in recent years. It isn’t ‘your’ party. It’s ‘our’ party and I will support the people who have supported our Republican candidates. If you are so intent on attacking Republicans, you should consider joining the Williamson crowd!”
Registration – with light refreshments – starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning. Annual precinct meetings – where registered Republicans that attend are all selected as delegates – start at 10 a.m., and the county convention, where delegates vote for the officers of the Watauga County Republican Party.
Below is the slate of officer recommendations unanimously approved by WCRP Executive Committee and submitted by the Nominating Committee. This info was contained in WCRP email blast Thursday morning.
ANNE MARIE YATES: CHAIRWOMAN
A native and lifetime resident of Watauga County, Anne Marie attended Hardin Park Elementary, graduated from Watauga High School and earned a BS in Accounting from Appalachian State University. She has been married to Perry Yates for 28 years and has five children. Anne Marie has attended Greenway Baptist Church since 1971. She served on the NC State Daycare Committee from 1987-1991 after being appointed by Rep. Gene Wilson. Anne Marie has also served on the Watauga Education Foundation from 2005-2011 and is President of the BLGA. She was the office manager/accountant for Appalachian Architecture and is currently the owner of Yates Travel, P&A Investments, and HCL Investments. Anne Marie has been a Watauga County Republican for 28 years and actively involved.
VICTORIA SMITH : VICE- CHAIRWOMAN
Victoria Smith has been dedicated to the Republican Party’s mission since 1976 when she worked on Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Campaign in San Diego. At San Diego State University she was deeply involved in the College Republicans while attending nursing school. Victoria arrived in North Carolina in 1992 and hit the ground running for the GOP in Charlotte. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Republican Women benefited from Victoria’s leadership with her serving on the board as President, Vice President and Campaigns/Political advisor for 19 years. She has worked tirelessly as campaign manager for many Republican candidates since 1995 including Mayor Pat McCrory for all of his Mayoral campaigns, NC Senator Bob Rucho, NC Senator Dan Soucek, NC House Rep. Jonathan Jordan, as well as judicial, county commission, city council and referendums – 16 successful campaigns in all. In 2008 Victoria was a “Tribute to Women” Honoree by the North Carolina Federation of Republican Women – an honor given to women who are “Making a Difference” in the Republican Party. Little known fact: Former Secretary of State George Shultz (in the Reagan administration) is Victoria’s brother-in-law.
ADRIAN de KEYZER: TREASURER
Adrian grew up in Marietta, GA and attended Appalachian State University. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree, double majoring in Finance & Banking and Risk Management & Insurance. Adrian currently works as a personal banker at Wells Fargo and is a co-owner of the local franchise of Curves. Last fall he became engaged and will marry his fianceé Stephanie in August. Adrian is an Eagle Scout and enjoys many outdoor activities the High Country offers.
MYRA SCOGGINS: SECRETARY
Myra has lived in Blowing Rock since 1970. She is on the Blowing Rock Appearance and Advisory Commission and Blowing Rock C.A.R.E.S. board. Myra is concerned with the lack of good employment opportunities in the county. She feels the Boone Town Council stands in the way of progress for the county. Myra believes Boone needs a broader tax base which helps the county as a whole. She hopes to help find good Conservative candidates to run for the Boone Town Council. Myra believes people with business experience are a must for the future of our county.