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3 officers exit GOP team in Trumbull

Cite issues with party chairman

WARREN — Citing a “lack of engagement and awareness” by the chairman of the Trumbull County Republican Party, three of its officers tendered their resignation this month, with staggered effective dates.

Ken Kline, also the mayor of Newton Falls, was voted party chairman in February at the end of Kevin Wyndham’s term.

And, Kline takes another hit if bylaw changes the party made continue to stand. The party’s new rules state elected officials cannot be the party chairman, so Kline will be ineligible to hold the chairmanship when his four-year term is up.

RESIGNATIONS

Treasurer Barbara Rosier Tryon resigns effective Dec. 15, Secretary Lori Hineman resigns effective Oct. 15 and First Vice Chair Jacquelyn Loges resigned effective Sept. 12.

The women staggered the effective dates to give them enough time to complete ongoing responsibilities and to “make the transition as orderly as possible,” their joint letter states.

The decision came after “much thought and consideration,” the letter states.

The letter continues:

“We feel that the lack of and awareness by our current chairman has resulted in a series of missteps followed by a series of unfortunate consequences. We see a lackluster desire by our chairman to grow and strengthen our Trumbull County Republican Party in all spheres — party affiliation, recruitment of candidates, financial donations, future party events and the day-to-day operations of our headquarters. We share concern that when problems arise, our chairman refuses to address them, preferring instead to ignore the problems and to ignore those of us bringing the problems to his attention.”

The letter states Kline is preoccupied with his duties in the village, which has experienced its share of turmoil in recent months with a recall election, management turnover and other issues.

“The feedback we are getting from local and state elected officials, as well as from (Ohio Republican Party members) themselves, reflect a growing concern over Trumbull County’s stature. We have communicated our concerns numerous times to our chairman and his response is, ‘I didn’t ask for this job’ and ‘These problems are nothing compared to Newton Falls.’ Virtually all conversation with our chairman –whether with us at our officers’ meetings or with other elected officials — center around Newton Falls to the extent that it has become clear to us that the Trumbull County Republican Party is a distant second in effort and time to Mayor Kline’s responsibilities in Newton Falls.”

The women will continue to be active in the party, the letter states, but the party should have officers more “in line” with Kline’s leadership style, the letter states.

Kline said he doesn’t take the letter personally and has no negative feelings toward the women.

There are others in the party who do believe in his leadership style, Kline said. And, he hasn’t held the chairmanship for that long yet.

“Many are pleased with what I am doing,” Kline said.

Kline said he may not be going to the types of events the officers think are important, but he has a different strategy. Also a pastor, Kline said he grew a new church from a dozen people to 80.

“Not by transfers, but by getting the message out into the streets, and it is my intention to do the same for the party, not just rubbing shoulders with the same people we see at the same events, but getting out there to the everyday citizen, so people can see the benefits of what I am doing and we can gain support that way,” Kline said.

Kline said he thinks there are a lot of people who vote Democrat who can be persuaded to join the Republican Party, and reaching out at ball games and other events that aren’t dominated by existing party members will be the winning strategy to reach more members in the long run. Kline said he hasn’t done much with candidate recruitment, but he has had to focus on “internal issues.”

“There is a little clique of issues… individuals are offended by certain people. I am not ripping on our county, people have issues and more people have more issues,” Kline said.

After the party is “right and healthy,” then “other things will take care of themselves and finding good candidates won’t be difficult,” Kline said. “I want to grow our foot soldiers and get out to raise funds and get names out there.”

Kline said nominations to replace the officers will be taken at future meetings.

BYLAWS

“Officers cannot run for public office, except for State Central Committee. Should they desire to run, they must resign their respective office,” the new bylaw language reads.

Kline ran the meeting and voted for the bylaw changes during the central committee meeting, but Kline said he and others were confused during the meeting and thought they were voting for something else.

“I’ve run parliamentary procedures in meetings before — as mayor I do so constantly. But, I’d never been to a central committee meeting before. I didn’t know if we were passing (the bylaws) all as a whole or piece-by-piece,” Kline said. “Some people didn’t realize what they were voting on.”

There were several changes up for consideration, he said, and there were a lot of people speaking up about their opinions, but some never had the chance to weigh in.

“People are disturbed by what happened, it wasn’t supposed to be pushed through in that way,” Kline said.

Loges was at the meeting.

“As expected and encouraged, several people voiced their opinions, both pro and con prior to the vote. Once the vote was counted, it was determined that the majority approved the changes. At that time, our chairman stepped forward and expressed confusion over how the vote took place thus undermining the confidence in the vote we just had,” Loges said, and Hineman concurred.

“It was made very clear what we were voting on… I as secretary repeated the motion… several amendments, and then called to vote. In addition, a member of the central committee stated to the group to be sure they understood the motion, and a ‘yes’ vote meant they were agreeing to the bylaws change,” Hineman said.

Loges said the meeting was the final straw, “the line in the sand.”

“This style of leadership reflects how the internal workings have been within the nucleus of the Republican Party with our new chairman. As a person, we feel him to be an honorable man; however, as our party’s leader, we do not have the confidence in him that we should,” she said.

Kline said he intends to assemble a new bylaw committee. Hineman said he attempted to do so at the prior meeting, but could not.

Kline doesn’t think it is a conflict to hold office and be party chairman, something former Trumbull County commissioner and Trumbull County Democratic Party Chairman Dan Polivka was criticized for when he held the county commissioner office until January.

“I don’t know how it is a problem, it depends on the person and their life. I have a very flexible schedule, I wear three hats — pastor, mayor and chairman. When I am asked which is my favorite, I say they are all the same because they are all serving people,” Kline said, adding that he can balance the work and spend hours each day working on all three responsibilities.

Rosier Tryon said there is a clear conflict in holding the chairmanship and elected office.

“Article 13, Section 2 of our bylaws does not allow any officer to publicly or implicitly endorse any candidate in a Republican primary where there are multiple Republican candidates. If an officer is putting themselves out there as a candidate for public office they are obviously endorsing themselves as the best candidate for the job, which would be in direct violation of this bylaws provision if another Republican were to file to run against them,” she said.

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