By Michelle Hazekamp
November 13, 2022
After a huge mid-term campaign effort, the Muskegon County Republicans held their County Convention to elect a new Executive Committee, which will run the party for the 2023-2024 season.
Current Executive Committee (EC) members were to be either re-elected or replaced through a slate ballot created by the slate committee, which consisted of the EC Chair, Zach Lahring and Communications Committee Chair, Michelle Hazekamp. In the past, a slate had been chosen solely at the discretion of the slate committee. This time, however, it was determined to choose a slate based on precinct delegates who declared an interest on sitting on the EC. This avoided showing favoritism, giving new delegates the opportunity, and avoiding nominating those who did not declare interest who might have felt obligated to continue serving. In doing so, we requested in the Call to Convention announcement letter, those Precinct Delegates who were interested in joining the Muskegon County Republican Executive Committee submit via email their request along with their qualifications for consideration.
During this election process, Precinct Delegates have the right to create and submit a separate slate, whereby all slates will be voted upon to declare the winning slate. One other such slate was submitted for consideration by a current (2020-2022) Executive Committee Member Chris Kaijala. However, it was submitted during the discussion of a motion on the floor to either approve or disapprove the original slate submitted by the slate committee. The Chair of the Convention, Zach Lahring, ruled to vote on Chris Kaijala's slate only if the original slate, currently in discussion, were to be rejected, and allowed comments from precinct delegates about both slates in the process.
Chris has been a valuable asset at investigating the 2020 election and is the author of the Elections Committee Report, which can be found by clicking here.
One Precinct Delegate and fellow Executive Committee Member, Benj Spencer, commented that he was pleasantly surprised to see several new names on the slate of people who have recently become active volunteers, that the people on the slate committee list were responsible for making the GOP operate like a well oiled machine. He further commented that he didn't recognize half the names on the alternative slate from Chris Kaijala because they were not involved. He wanted to ensure the GOP would be in the hands of people who were already actively growing and prospering the mission of the GOP. This resulted in loud applause from the convention.
Voting was decided ahead of time to be conducted by a standing count, whereas for a "yes" vote, Precinct Delegates stand to be counted. After Mr. Kaijala announced his slate, a motion was made for discussion in which he suggested a private, paper vote in order to avoid any voting out of fear. Chairman Lahring denounced the suggestion and explained nobody would be looked down upon for which slate they chose.
Fellow Precinct Delegate, Kerry Knight, made a profound point that the signers of the Declaration proudly signed their name knowing they would be targeted for treason by the King of England for doing so, and we need to have that same courage to publicly stand behind our positions.
The irony was not lost on the many Delegates who received an anonymous letter that Chris Kaijala admitted came from him and those on his slate. It outlined his grievances and accusations against Zach Lahring and Malinda Pego for "running the GOP into the ground". They apparently did not have the courage to identify themselves in that letter and publicly stand behind their accusations.
Mr. Kaijala then accused the current EC stating that if the vote were not secret then the EC would target those who voted against them, which caused an uproar from the delegates, and a back and forth between Chairman Lahring and Mr. Kaijala.
Chairman Lahring then explained to the delegates a long running conflict that has been occurring between the two of them. This conflict was rooted in Lahring's expectations not being met by Kaijala for recruiting election inspectors and challengers during the first year of his appointment. Lahring added that critical election integrity information was withheld or slow-walked by Kaijala when other members needed it.
Once the heat settled down, a motion was made to close discussion and voting on either approving or rejecting the original slate from the slate committee. If rejected, the alternative slate would be voted upon. However, the original slate overwhelmingly approved with 115 Precinct Delegates voting in favor over 6 who rejected it. Chris Kaijala promptly left the convention out of protest, prior to the voting.
By allowing Precinct Delegates to submit their nomination for the EC, we are able to seek new members who will be great assets to the Muskegon GOP Executive Committee. The Muskegon County Republican Executive Committee entails a lot of time and energy and those seeking a position must be willing to make those sacrifices in order to maintain the GOP.
For the hundreds of new Precinct Delegate who have joined us this year and are still getting the hang of local politics, we encourage you to continue to be involved, attend our fun events and volunteer for candidates and initiatives. Everyone has the opportunity to lead and we are VERY active year round.
Even if you are NOT a Precinct Delegate you have tremendous opportunity. All paid members of the Muskegon County Republican Party are eligible to participate in our committees (People with specific talents are in high demand for event planning and communications.):
We believe we have elected a great team of committed and talented volunteers and we are excited to take on the next two years!
Our newest Executive Committee members elected to the 2023/2024 term includes;
Amanda Clarke Faino
Incumbent EC members and the current sub-committees they sit on are:
Benj Spencer (Communications)
Bonnie Kellogg (Elections)
Deb Null (Events)
Malinda Pego (Vice Chair & Candidate Recruitment)
Matt Johnson (Treasurer)
Nathan Wood (Candidate Recruitment),
Sandy Kempf (Outreach)
These will join the following Statutory EC Members, Republicans who won the party's nomination in their primary election and party nominee's:
State Elected Officials:
US Representative for District 2, John Moolenaar
Michigan State Senator for District 34, Jon Bumstead
Michigan State Senator for District 33, Rick Outman
Michigan State Representative 87th District - Greg VanWoerkom
Michigan State Representative 89th District - Luke Meerman
Michigan State Representative 102nd District - Curt Vanderwall
County Elected Officials:
Muskegon County Commissioner for District 1, Kim Cyr
Muskegon County Commissioner for District 2, Zach Lahring
Muskegon County Commissioner for District 3, Michelle Hazekamp
State & County Nominee's:
Michigan State Representative Nominee 87th District - Michael Haueisen
Muskegon County Commissioner Nominee for District 4, Dan Potts
Muskegon County Commissioner Nominee for District 5, David Dursema
Muskegon County Commissioner Nominee for District 6, Doug Brown
Muskegon County Commissioner Nominee for District 7, Steve Null
Muskegon County Sheriff Nominee, 2020 - Jason Hall
Muskegon County Register of Deeds Nominee, 2020 - Eric Rothoff
The Muskegon County Republican Executive Committee congratulates and welcomes each of our newest members and a special thank you to the Precinct Delegates who entrusted and voted for their new Executive Committee! We still have a lot work to do moving ahead in the next two years and we will need all Precinct Delegates on board if we are to win our county and State over.
We will have victory in our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ!
God Bless to all.
1 John 5:4 - For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.