Pawhuska Republicans form group

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Republican voters from the Pawhuska area took steps March 15 to begin the formation of their own group. Pawhuska business owner Doreen Linder conducted the inaugural meeting, held at the Community Center.

Linder, who owns Salt Creek Marketplace on Kihekah Avenue, articulated a framework for a group vision. The elements of that vision framework included offering Republican voters an opportunity to connect with one another, providing information about issues of interest to Republicans, and encouraging higher voter turnout at the polls among Pawhuska Republicans.

The March 15 meeting represented, at least in part, a desire to create something specifically for Pawhuska-area residents, separate from the existing Osage County Republican Party. The meeting call, which was published online, indicated that numerous residents of Pawhuska and northern Osage County “do not feel that they are best being represented at this time.”

The meeting call specified that all Republican candidates attending gatherings of the new group will be introduced and allowed to speak if they so choose.

”The group will not support or promote one candidate over another,” the meeting call added. Linder on March 15 reiterated those positions. The formation of the group was shaped by an adverse public reaction to a meeting the Osage County Republican Party’s leadership held in Pawhuska on Feb. 21. At that meeting, one prospective candidate for District 1 county commissioner was introduced and given time to speak, but other Republican prospective candidates for the same office were not introduced and not afforded the opportunity to speak.

At the March 15 meeting for the new group, incumbent District 1 Commissioner Randall Jones was introduced as the featured speaker. John Brazee, one of three prospective challengers to Jones, was also introduced and given the opportunity to make remarks.

Other potential Republican candidates for District 1 Commissioner include Clay Hughs and Dr. Everett Piper. Neither Hughs nor Piper attended the March 15 meeting.

Attendance on March 15 was about 25-30 people. About three of those were not from the Pawhuska area, and another was a non-Republican attending with a Republican spouse.

Linder, who has lived in Oklahoma some 15 years and owned a business in Pawhuska for the past five years, told the group a little about the history of her involvement in Republican Party politics. She related that she grew up in Patterson, New Jersey in a Democratic Party household. She recalled not being welcome to park her car, with its bumper sticker in support of George H.W. Bush, in the family driveway.

Linder said her values matched up better with the Republican Party than with the Democratic Party, and she voiced concern that “our freedoms are being chipped away.”  She also explained that pro-life advocacy had been of particular interest to her.

Linder has also done voter outreach for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. She expressed a desire to use her experience to benefit the community.

”I want this group to be a force in the community,” Linder said. The next group meeting is scheduled for April 14 at the Community Center. Officers may be chosen at that point. There was discussion of potential group officer selections at the March 15 session, but no choices were voted upon.

Randall Jones nominated Linder to serve as chairperson. There was also some discussion of the formation of committees to handle priorities such as fundraising, rules and voter registration.