Friday, March 19, 2004

Young GOP group formed

Both parties finding fresh
voices in Kenton County

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Kenton County Republicans, long adept at organization, have formed a new group to focus on recruiting young people.

Statewide GOP leaders have sanctioned the Kenton County Young Republicans as a formal political committee, said Kenton County Commissioner Adam Koenig.

Koenig, 33, was instrumental in forming the group of about 15 members open to those ages 18 to 40. Though based in Kenton County, it is open to Republicans throughout Northern Kentucky.

"We have a very excellent countywide Republican Party, we have a new high school Republican group and we have the young Republicans out at (Northern Kentucky University)," Koenig said Thursday. "This is something to appeal to people in their 20s and 30s who want to become involved in Republican politics and campaigns.

"We want to groom the next generation of leadership in Northern Kentucky," he said.

Koenig said the group will raise money for candidates, work on campaigns and recruit members.

It will meet the fourth Thursday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at Kenton County Republican Headquarters, in office space at the Fort Wright Ramada Inn on Dixie Highway. Information is available at (859) 578-9258.

Members include:

•  Assistant Kenton County Attorney Brandon Voelker.

•  Heather Flannery, of NKU Campus Republicans.

•  Will Terwort, a clerk in the Kenton County Attorney's Office.

•  Ted Koester, whose family owns Herzog Jewelers in Fort Mitchell.

•  Scott Steffen, a lawyer.

Steffen, the group's treasurer, said it wants to tap into "the hotbed of conservative values in Northern Kentucky, particularly within the youth of our area."

"The old-line Democratic mentality is kind of disappearing around here," said Steffen, 28, of Villa Hills. "People growing up here and young people living here are more likely to support Republicans and the party's message of personal responsibility than the more liberal influences of the Democratic Party."

But Kathy Groob, a Fort Mitchell Democrat running for state Senate in Kenton County's 23rd Senate District, said she has had no trouble attracting young people to her campaign.

"We have a group of about 15 to 20 young people who are very active," said Groob, who is challenging Sen. Jack Westwood, R-Crescent Springs. "We have young people who are just entering the workforce, a lot of teachers and some college students.

"Many of our young volunteers are interested in education," she said. "And the people coming to us care a lot about common people, and they want to work to provide better jobs and more opportunity for people."

Young volunteers did the bulk of the planning on a campaign event Groob will have tonightin MainStrasse Village. Supporters will visit seven bars and restaurants during what the campaign has billed "Groobin' on Main."

Suggested contribution is $15. The event runs from 5:30 p.m. to about 9 p.m. and will start at Chez Nora, 530 Main Street.

"That's going to be a fun event, and that's why I like having young people involved," she said. "They bring a lot of energy and new ideas, and that's good for either party."


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