Conroe, June 6 – A group of conservative Republican Precinct Chairs have proposed some major changes to the Bylaws of the Republican Party of Montgomery County to decentralize the power structure in the County Party away from control of the Chairman and into the hands of the County Executive Committee composed of the Precinct Chairs. Precinct 50 Republican Chairman Reagan Reed and Precinct 69 Chairman John Hill Wertz submitted the proposed Bylaws changes to the County Republican Party yesterday, June 5, 2018, two weeks prior to the June 19, 2018, meeting of the County Executive Committee.
The Bylaws Changes will require a majority vote of the Precinct Chairs in attendance at the Republican County Executive Committee meeting.
Montgomery County Republican Party Chairman Walter D. Wilkerson, Jr., reacted very negatively to most of the proposed Bylaws changes. “I see this move as being very divisive on their part,” Wilkerson said in reference to the conservative Precinct Chairs. “I’ve started a Victory 2018 Committee for us to unite behind Republican candidates in the November General Election with Charlie Parada as Chairman and Pat Tibbs as Vice Chairman. I’m frankly really concerned about the divisiveness that’s taking place in our Party. I’m reaching out the Republican women’s groups, the Young Republicans, the Tea Party groups, and others so that we can unite together. I can work with anybody.”
The proposed bylaws changes would take much of the power of the County Republican Chairman and give it to the County Executive Committee and to a nine-member steering committee. “We’re basing these bylaws changes on what was done in Travis County in 2016,” Reed explained. “We’re wanting to overhaul the Montgomery County Republican Party bylaws essentially to decentralize and make it where the whole County Executive Committee makes decisions as opposed to the County Chairman doing everything.”
Reed analogized his and Wertz’s proposal to the efforts by Precinct 4 County Commissioner Jim Clark and Precinct 3 County Commissioner James Noack to decentralize power in the Montgomery County government by putting the control of County Departments in the hands of the Commissioners Court rather than in the control of the County Judge. Reed said, “Power is best when it’s dispersed.”
The specific changes Reed and Wertz have formally proposed include:
- The County Executive Committee would elect the Party’s Vice Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer rather than the County Party Chairman appointing them;
- A steering committee of the County Chairman, the three officers, and five Precinct Chairs would run the Party’s day-to-day operations and deal with policy matters that arise between quarterly meetings of the County Executive Committee;
- Currently the County Republican Chairman appoints the Area Chairs who oversee the work of the elected Precinct Chairs, but under the proposed bylaws change the Precinct Chairs from each area would elect the Area Chairs instead;
- The County Republican Party would have the ability to endorse in non-partisan races after a vetting committee has vetted candidates and after the entire County Executive Committee votes to endorse, which may be the most major change of all in the Reed-Wertz proposal;
- The County Executive Committee rather than the County Republican Chairman would appoint County Party Committees; and
- The County Executive Committee would have the right to hire or fire any staff person, including Executive Assistant melinda fredricks who has come under intense criticism for failures in the performance of her duties while earning approximately $30,000 per year from donations the County Party receives.
“We want more transparency and the decentralization of power,” said Reed. “We’ll make our County Party much stronger in the long-term as a result. The State Party Rules require County Parties to adopt the bylaws every two years. This organizational meeting is a great opportunity.”
Wertz, who is the Precinct 69 Republican Chairman, spoke with The Golden Hammer yesterday afternoon and said, “I think this could be an exciting time for our party, if these by-laws are adopted by our County Executive Committee on June 19th. Several of our team leaders (including Allison Winter, Betty Anderson, Brian Crumby and Reagan Reed) have been working hard to take the spirit and content from James Dickey’s Travis County Republican Party By-Laws and craft them to suit Montgomery County’s needs. We see it as a win-win all the way around.”
Wilkerson was not complimentary of the proposed bylaws changes at all. “You wonder why we want to model our bylaws after Travis County that’s dominated by democrats. I’ve called some people there and they’ve said it was a disaster. They completely did away with the steering committee part of it later. I’m perfectly willing to accept amendments to the bylaws but they need to make sense,” the County Chairman said.
Wilkerson expressed a great reluctance for the County Republican Party to become involved in non-partisan races, even though many County Republican Party organizations across Texas have begun to take those positions. Wilkerson said, “I think we can allow for party involvement in non-partisan elections if only one Republican is on the ballot, but otherwise I don’t think we can accept that. How do they determine who is a Republican in those non-partisan races? That’s a good question.”
Wilkerson concluded, “democrats have some candidates for the first time in two decades in Montgomery County and some of them are reasonable people. We need to unify and work together to defeat the democrats in November. I see this move as very divisive on their part.”