The Nash County Republican Party held its annual convention recently in the Brown Auditorium at Nash Community College.
The convention is held every year as a means of taking care of necessary business, such as the adoption of the Plan of Organizations and the election of delegate to district and state conventions, and also to celebrate recent electoral victories. As Josh Wester said in his opening remarks, "2016 was a banner year for Republicans. We are happy to celebrate so many electoral victories and accomplishments."
The keynote speaker, Mark Johnson, was recently elected as the state Superintendent of Public Instruction. During his speech, Johnson thanked party members for his success saying "I just want to thank you - sincerely. I campaigned across this state and I came to realize that the real way that we win these statewide campaigns is through the county organization. It's through well organized counties; it's through all the volunteer hours you put in. Thank you so much for helping me get to this office."
Johnson taught at West Charlotte High School before going for his law degree at UNC-Chapel Hill. He told a personal story of one his students who's reading level was half what it should have been. "The system has failed that young man," he said. He emphasized the importance of education - how quality education can lead to great opportunities, and how a failing education system strains the economy. "I was taught at a very early age that the amount of work you do in K through twelve public education really determine what kind of work you do for the next forty to fifty years after that."
Johnson also made the point that one of the main goals of our education system should be workforce development, that not everyone needs to attend a four-year university to be successful. "We need to truly connect k through twelve system with our community colleges." One example he provided involved power lineman. Nearly seventy percent of the lineman currently employed by Duke Energy will be retiring in the next few years. Those open positions mean opportunity for students and the community colleges providing the specialized training needed to perform those jobs.
Johnson shared during his speech, what he called his guiding principles - urgency, ownership, and innovation. The issue of education is an urgent, immediate issue. Every year that passes with nothing done to correct the current problems is a year more students are lost. Ownership means that the party needs to make education a Republican issue. Innovation involves what Johnson called the responsible use of technology in the classroom. Technology cannot replace teachers, but should be available to make teachers' jobs easier.
During the convention, the party also elected officers and executive committee members to serve for the next two years. Kevin Lewis was presented the Faye Eagles Volunteer of the Year Award, given in recognition of service to the Nash County Republican Party. There were 69 registered Republicans and 44 guests in attendance at the 2017 convention.