Archived Story

Republicans elect Irwin to succeed LaBre

Published 10:13pm Tuesday, November 27, 2012

CASSOPOLIS — Cass County Republicans Tuesday night elected a new chairman, county Treasurer Linda Irwin, of Dowagiac.

She succeeds Edwardsburg attorney William LaBre, who said, after 16 years, it’s time for new blood and ideas, although the party delivered Cass for Mitt Romney.

Bill LaBre passes his gavel of 16 years to Cass County Treasurer Linda Irwin

GOP faithful packed the Board of Commissioners chamber for the county convention and gave LaBre and County Clerk-Register Barb Runyon, who stepped aside after eight years, standing ovations.

Runyon is becoming Silver Creek Township clerk. Her successor, Monica Kennedy, attended.

“I hope you give her the support you gave me,” Runyon said.

LaBre said despite “wailing and teeth-gnashing” nationally from Republicans, the party retained conservative control of the House and blocked Democrats from attaining “national government.”

“Don’t despair or be depressed,” he said. “We have not lost; we simply need to regroup. Maintaining our core principles, we will see victory again on the national scale.”

The evening unfolded in three parts. First, the convention elected the executive board for the next two years. Second, a meeting of the executive board followed which elects 2013-14 officers. Finally, the party conducted its last meeting of the 2011-12 board. Since December’s meeting falls on Christmas, there will not be another meeting until the fourth Tuesday in January.

The 16 are Carl Higley, Jerry Duck, Wally Berndt, Mark Jamrog, Scott Davis, John Brielmaier, Miriam Bollweg, Ardith Higley, Diane Konneck, Charles Konneck, Patricia LaBre, William LaBre, Diane Leach, Roger Leach, Gerald Ostrowski and Bob Newton.

There are also the seven commissioner nominees, the five countywide officeholders, prosecutor, treasurer, clerk, surveyor, water commissioner, sheriff, two Michigan House representatives (Matt Lori of Constantine and Dave Pagel of Berrien Springs) and state Sen. John Proos).

Republicans seated Water Commissioner Bruce Campell, of Edwardsburg, as vice chairman.

He defeated Mark Jamrog, of Edwardsburg, to succeed Margaret Stanley, of Edwardsburg, who served in the position since the 1970s.

The new treasurer is Commissioner-elect Bernie Williamson, former Jefferson Township supervisor, with Milton Township Deputy Treasurer Diane Konneck as secretary.

Prosecutor Victor Fitz said, “Overall, (the Nov. 6) results were disheartening, but our candidates in Cass County actually did quite well, top to bottom, but we tried to do a lot in two months. There’s plenty of room for improvement. Mark (Jamrog) is working on suggestions on how we can do things more effectively from our debriefing for a January report. The most important part all of us feel is we need to start in January 2013 for 2014.”

Jamrog added, “I think Cass County was strongest in the Sixth District. I’d like to make Cass County its model. As a recommendation for Linda, every one of those meetings I go to, we’re in serious trouble. We’re losing jobs, we’re losing people and home values are going down and there’s little discussion. None of the counties report on that. They report on Lincoln Day and victory centers, but there’s never any hard discussion on what’s going on with business start-ups and real estate sales to turn things around. Cass County should go with hard data.”

LaBre said it is “extraordinarily impressive” how the established GOP has reached unity with the Tea Party in Cass County.

“Our cooperation could also serve as a model,” he said.



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