By Guest Blogger & TFVC Member Jeannie Powell
One thing I’ve learned in life, is that sometimes, in order to understand, you just have to jump on in.
When TFVC’s email came through, recruiting delegates for the Republican conventions, I felt unsure because I had no prior context for what was being asked. I have always voted, but hadn’t participated in elections beyond that. Although I’m obviously familiar with the words “delegate,” “precinct convention” and “resolution,” I didn’t understand how they played into a primary election or what role I might have.
I do understand the importance of legislation though, and as a proud member of Texans for Vaccine Choice, I wanted to help. That’s how I became one of 83 TFVC members, across our great state, to attend a Precinct Convention. It went so well, that I signed up as a delegate to the county!
Although the name may sound intimidating, the event was welcoming. “Convention” turned out to be a grand word for a small, relaxed, yet formal meeting of Republican neighbors, on a Saturday morning, at our local library. In short order, we had important resolutions passed and sent on to the next level. “Small but mighty” would be a good way to sum it up!
Library doors opened and a couple dozen people, from four different precincts, made their way to the large conference room. It was set up with tables and chairs in the four corners of the room, each with a precinct number clearly marked. In other words, there were four Precinct Conventions held simultaneously in this conference room. I immediately saw some neighbors and knew which table was mine. We ended up with 9 people total in our Precinct Convention. The other precincts in the room had between 2 and 12 people.
Most Precinct Conventions have relatively low turn-out (probably because people don’t know they exist.) Any Republican who voted in the most recent primary can show up and participate in their precinct convention. It is the first tier in a succession of 4 levels of conventions: Precinct, County, State, National (RNC). Attendees at the precinct tier can choose to sign up to go on to the next level convention as a delegate.
On each of the four precinct tables were 20+ resolutions which we could browse ahead of time if we chose. The resolutions are usually about a page long and outline an issue that citizens or grassroots organizations would like to be incorporated into the Republican platform or to be the basis for legislation. Some resolutions had been sent in to the precinct chairs beforehand, and some were brought in by citizens attending that morning. It was a very informal process for submission, and since attendees can walk in with a resolution the day of the convention, every precinct does not have the same resolutions.
Our friendly precinct leader introduced herself, kindly offered everyone donuts and coffee, and passed around a sign in sheet. We wrote our names, addresses, and voter ID numbers (voter ID number was appreciated but not mandatory) in order to verify our status as a member of the precinct. There was also a place on the sign in sheet to indicate a desire to move on as a delegate to the county convention.
Technically, delegates must run and be elected, but often there are more spots than volunteers. For example, my precinct is allotted over 70 county delegates, but only 6 have signed up to go.
Though we were a very relaxed group, the meeting was run in a professional way, using parliamentary procedure. The precinct leader formally called the meeting to order and did a great job of keeping the meeting moving forward. The entire convention followed Roberts Rules of Order (“I move to…”, “I second the motion”, etc. ) The leader asked for volunteers to be secretary and sergeant at arms. Each was nominated and elected, just for the duration of that morning convention.
The secretary read aloud each of our 22 resolutions, one at a time. Discussion followed as warranted, and we voted to pass or fail each. As Republicans, we were all fairly like-minded. There was no contention at all. A few resolutions had awkward wording or unclear intent. Those did not pass because even after discussion, our group was unsure what exactly we were voting for.
I was pleased to find that the majority of passed resolutions pertained to solidifying parental rights. A number of resolutions sought to limit the over-reach of public schools and government in terms of sexual education/issues, medical decisions, and political bias. Two resolutions specifically included “immunizations” as part of a list of medical decisions that are to be the sole decision of parents. Every one of the resolutions pertaining to parental rights passed easily and unanimously in my precinct. During the brief discussions, it was clear that each person there was 100% in favor of parents making all medical decisions for their child, specifying that there should be no secretive behavior or mandate from schools or government. It was energizing to see that, at least in my precinct, parental rights has become a top issue for Republican voters.
Once all resolutions had been heard and voted in or out, the county delegates were approved, and our precinct leader formally ended the meeting.
I stayed a few minutes to visit with my neighbors. Two had been participating as delegates for decades and gave me more information about what to expect at our County Convention. I’m really looking forward to it!
After attending my Precinct Convention, I can see what an incredible opportunity this could be for TFVC members to make a huge impact on policy. (Thank you to our fabulous leaders, Jackie and Rebecca, for promoting and organizing this!) The next precinct convention isn’t for 2 years, but we all know how fast time goes. It will be here before you know it. What a simple way to make a big difference!
Precinct Convention Time commitment: Ten minutes to two hours on one day, often an evening or Saturday
Location: Local to your home
Task: Read/Listen to resolutions and vote to pass or fail; approve county delegate volunteers
Accomplishment: Provide the basis for the official Republican platform and future legislation
Possibility: Choose whether to go on to county, state and national conventions as a delegate
**To volunteer to attend your upcoming county and/or senate district conventions, or simply to get more info about the conventions, please contact Rebecca Hardy at Rebecca@texansforvaccinechoice.com**