By Frank JB Shearrow

There is an old political maxim that says all politics are local. For the Alafia Republican club (ARC), a club that covers Brandon, Lithia, Riverview and Valrico, a new year means new leadership.

When asked about the ARC, guest speaker and Hillsborough county GOP Chairman Senator, Tom Lee, said the club in East Hillsborough was the strongest and most conservative group in the area. During his speech, Senator Lee encouraged the ARC to work hard during this 2014 election cycle. Meeting at the Riverhills Golf Club, the biggest moment came at the end of the meeting when the posts of President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer were nominated and confirmed unanimously.

Returning to their previous posts as President and Treasurer respectively are Jeff Lukens and Mark Smith. Former Vice President Kelly Rickon will assume the duties of Secretary with Michelle Metheney taking on the role of Vice President. The new officers hope to lead a club towards a successful 2014 election cycle.

“What we really want to do is to energize local conservatives to support our candidates,” said Lukens. He stated that his goal for the New Year was to keep the club growing, as it has already outgrown its old meeting place at Beef o’ Brady’s in Brandon last summer. Lukens said, “The more we can do for Governor Scott and our other local candidates, the more we’ll keep growing. Riverhills has an even bigger ballroom next door”.

Mark Smith, re-elected as Treasurer, added to Lukens’ enthusiasm. “Our number one goal here is to get the discouraged voter back to the polls and to keep them engaged after the election. An elected official will pay attention to a large, organized constituency.” Some of the events the ARC hopes to be involved with this year include volunteer work for local House and Senate candidates. This summer, the Alafia Republicans will run movie nights and hold election events in the fall. Smith said, “The best way to get involved is to come to our monthly meetings or to visit”

The Alafia Republican Club meets at 6:30 p.m., the second Tuesday of every month at River Hills Country Club, 3943 New River Hills Pkwy., in Valrico.


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