Catoosa County Republican Party convention attendees debate school choice

Staff Photo by Andrew Wilkins / Members of the Catoosa County Republican Party executive committee, from left, Sherre Bales, secretary; Ruth Fant, treasurer; Joanna Hildreth, chairwoman; Marie Moore, second vice chairwoman; and Beth Cass, third vice chairwoman. Not pictured is Debbie Morrison, first vice chairwoman.

How Republicans should engage with public education was one of several topics of discussion as the Catoosa County Republican Party passed seven resolutions and re-elected its executive committee at its county party convention Saturday.

Denise Burns, chairwoman of the 14th Congressional District Republican Party and a Catoosa County resident, told the crowd that resolutions give a temperature of what the county party is thinking. And county-level resolutions get moved up to the district or state level, she said.

Seven resolutions were approved, including one supporting state legislation that would attempt to shield Georgians from federal firearm laws through the Second Amendment Protection Act. Another resolution encouraged Republicans to get involved with public schools -- and also supported parents who pull their children from public schools.

Originally, the public education resolution asked all Republican families to take their students out of public schools, but that request was amended.

In objecting to the resolution, Megan Schrader called it the Republican and Christian thing to get involved with schools because a lot of students don't have parents to be their advocates.

Second Vice Chairwoman Marie Moore said she is part of her school's governance team that meets monthly to offer a "check and balance" on school leadership. Every school has a governance team, she said.

"If you're not involved with your kids' (school), shame on you," Moore said. "They do need parents involved with this."

David Holmes said Republicans taking their kids out of school is part of a trend to create alternatives rather than fight for their values in the public sphere.

"We are losing this war because we want to run away," he said at the meeting. "When we stand up and fight, we win. When we stand up on values as conservatives or Republicans, we win."

More than 110 participated in the county convention at Patriot Hall in Ringgold, Georgia, on Saturday. It was the largest turnout party Chairwoman Joanna Hildreth said she's seen in the 11 years she's been involved with the county party. She was elected for a second two-year term as chairwoman.

"It went really well," Hildreth said after the convention. "I was very excited about the turnout. We had an idea that we'd have a pretty big turnout based on pre-registration, but there were even more people who came this morning."

  photo  Staff Photo by Andrew Wilkins / Participants in the 2023 Catoosa County Republican Party convention vote on party resolutions Saturday.

A resolution condemning COVID-19 vaccines -- referred to as "the jab" in the resolution's text -- and demanding they be banned was tabled indefinitely.

Nick Ware spoke against the resolution, saying he sees problems with the vaccine and calling pharmaceutical companies evil. He said he would rather the resolution condemn government mandates related to the vaccine.

(READ MORE: Catoosa County Republican Party convention is set for Saturday)

The other resolutions passed were:

-- Condemning the World Economic Forum's central planning regarding climate change and social justice.

-- Condemning Gov. Brian Kemp's participation in the forum's 2023 conference in Davos, Switzerland.

-- Requesting taxpayer-approved special local sales tax initiatives be made four years long, rather than five years long, and be voted on during presidential election years. Also requested was having only one proposed per ballot.

-- Replacing Dominion voting machines with hand-marked paper ballots.

-- Affirming the state party's position that life begins at conception.

(READ MORE: Catoosa County residents looking for resolution to 'chicken war')

The group also unanimously re-elected its executive committee: Hildreth as chairwoman, Debbie Morrison as first vice chairwoman, Moore as second vice chairwoman, Beth Cass as third vice chairwoman, Sherre Bales as secretary and Ruth Fant as treasurer. The executive committee was re-elected as a slate.

No one came forward to run for positions on the county party's executive committee, Hildreth said.

Jimmy Gray, who has declared his intention to run for the District 2 seat for the County Commission, said in a social media message that he supported current leadership because they hold local officials accountable on their votes and positions on issues.

To measure a county party's effectiveness in organizing, Burns said the state party uses a series of metrics in its Five Star Program. When those metrics were judged and ranked, Burns said the Catoosa Republican Party is one of six counties that reached five-star status and is in the top five Georgia counties for multiple actions such as get-out-the-vote campaigns and voter registration.

"Objectively speaking, state party was very happy with what the county leadership had accomplished," Burns said. "It's hard to argue otherwise."

(READ MORE: Jeff Mullis and Dewayne Hill honored for service in Georgia Assembly)

Elected officials present at the convention were Mitchell Horner, R-Catoosa County, of the state House of Representatives, Sheriff Gary Sisk and Kelly Bomar and Rhonda Swaney, Ringgold City Council members.

Contact Andrew Wilkins at or 423-757-6659.