Republican group hosts Reagan Day Dinner
GRASONVILLE — The Queen Anne’s County Republican Central Committee held its annual Reagan Day Dinner and awards ceremony on Wednesday, May 18, at the Prospect Bay Country Club, where elected officials, representatives and community members gathered to hear about the state of the party.
Laura Knickman, secretary of the county’s Republican Central Committee, was honored for her work as the “architect” in establishing the standards and process for filling a legislative vacancy, as happened when then-County Commissioner Paul Comfort was appointed by the governor to head the Maryland Transportation Association. The commission vacancy was filled by Jack Wilson.
Knickman received citations from the governor as well as from the Maryland General Assembly.
When the current RCC members were elected into office, Kingston said there were basic guidelines in the state law for how to fill a vacancy, but no written process was established. Knickman told Kingston, “We’ve got to nail down a process that, God forbid, we have another Pipkin situation and there is a vacuum that it creates and we have to fill the vacancy.”
Knickman said the group, with the help of Diana Waterman at the state level, created a process that has become a model for other counties. Knickman said it is mainly a transparency process that involves interviews, gathering background and other information, as well as establishing better communication with regional counterparts, so the public knows what is happening throughout the process.
“We wanted to do something to restore ... our local party when we first took office,” Knickman said. “In fact, it was one of the reasons I ran for Queen Anne’s County Central Committee was to try to create some transparency, try to involve the public more in our process, in what we’re doing, so that the public could feel invested and feel like they were getting good results from the people they elected.
Mike Johnson from Sudlersville won the 2015 Volunteer of the Year award for his dedication to the Republican Party. The RCC also presented its Queen Anne’s County Republican of the Year award to presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. John Jagger, director for the Donald J. Trump campaign in Maryland, accepted the award on his behalf.
Del. Steve Arentz presented a posthumous citation from the Maryland General Assembly in recognition of Mareen Waterman, who recently died, to Barry and Diana Waterman. Waterman was recognized for his “dedication to his community” and “to his fellow Republicans.”
“This guy meant a whole lot to me personally,” Arentz said. “He’s been a friend. He’s been just a great person. And the family has been a great group, and I’m honored to present this.”
After the citation was presented, County Commissioner Jim Moran said a few words about Mareen Waterman and the impact Waterman had on him running for office. Having met Waterman six years ago and creating a relationship, Moran recalled Waterman telling him to run for office because he had no ties and that he used common sense.
Moran said it was “a treat to talk issues with him” because Waterman never got mad and was always willing to talk.
Barry Waterman said when his father “reached the pearly gates” he was recognized for being a generous person. But more so than that, “he was probably recognized as a staunch Republican.”
Barry Waterman said he had
seen nearly every politician who had run for office talk with his father and, despite agreeing or disagreeing on certain positions, “he was always willing to talk to everybody.”
Nicolee Ambrose, Republican National Committee National Committeewoman for Maryland who is currently spearheading Maryland GOP’s Super Saturday grassroots program, began her talk by speaking about the “doom and gloom” of the current political climate.
Ambrose has also served as Young Republican Chair of the Maryland Youth Team under then-President George W. Bush, was chairman of the Young Republican National Federation and has spoken as a political analyst on Fox News Radio, “Square Off” on NBC and on BBC news.
“Why is this such a pivotal year for America’s future? I think we have quickly and dramatically gone from having a concern of, what will the future be like for our grandchildren to wondering what America will be like for us and our children,” Ambrose said.
Ambrose said Americans believe Hillary Clinton is untrustworthy. She went on to talk about scandals associated with the Clinton family, such as Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky, Hillary’s handling of the four Americans killed in Benghazi in 2012, her controversial use of a private email server, and “Pardongate,” where Ambrose said the Clinton’s took donations to pardon people at the end of Bill’s presidency.
“Many of us know this stuff, but how on earth could America go back to the days of this and these scandals. We have to do everything we possibly can to get away from someone of such poor character and horrible judgment leading this nation.”
Ambrose said Democrats have mastered the use of social media and the “emotional game of politics,” and said the Republican Party needs to combat those emotions and encouraged those in attendance to help conquer that mission. Ambrose said people need to be reminded, “It’s a good thing to be a Republican.”
Ambrose finished her talk encouraging Maryland Republicans to turn the state red in the upcoming presidential election and to vote in Kathy Szeliga to the U.S. Senate, as well as electing other Republican legislators.
“We are fighting them in deep blue territory and making them be on the defensive ... So that’s kind of our trick in Maryland,” Ambrose said. “Cede no ground, fight them every step of the way, and show people why our ideas are right.”
U.S. Senate candidate Kathy Szeliga, who has served in the Maryland House of Delegates since 2011 and was elected the Whip of the House Republican Caucus in 2013, was the second speaker during the dinner fundraiser.
Szeliga said she and her husband Mark started out with $5 in their pockets, working minimum wage jobs. Having traded a drill and $80 for their first car, Szeliga and her husband eventually purchased their first car.
“We knew that if we worked hard in this exceptional country you can achieve something, you can succeed, because America is the land of opportunity,” Szeliga said.
She worked as a maid, a waitress and as a dishwasher but took those skills and hard work and began to move up in her career. She became the manager of the housekeeping department and eventually ran the reservations department at a resort, “just the way the American dream works: you work hard and take advantage of opportunities.”
Szeliga and her husband started a small general contracting business about 30 years ago. She said when she arrived in Annapolis she looked around one day and realized there weren’t enough small business owners, “people who know what it means to sign the front of the check, not just the back of the check.”
Now, she said, Republican business owners in Annapolis are helping make decisions and are supporting the governor’s “great ideas and agenda and policies” and that Maryland is beginning to change.
With the encouragement and help of friends and family, Szeliga said she decided Maryland was worth fighting for and decided to run for U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s seat. To win the statewide election in Maryland, Szeliga said, “We’re going to need a little chaos.”
Then, she said, “You need a great candidate like me who’s the wife, mom, grandmom, small business owner and a leader in Annapolis, somebody who knows how to get things done .... You need a Marylander. That’s how we’re going to change this country is by putting regular people in there.”
Szeliga said voters have the choice between a career politician in Chris Van Hollen, her opponent running for U.S. Senate, or someone who has worked a variety of jobs prior to becoming a politician. She said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repetitively and expecting different results. “What’s the definition of insanity in Washington?” Szeliga said. “Putting another career politician in office and expecting different results.”
Follow Mike Davis on Twitter: @mike_kibaytimes.
Mike Johnson of Sudlersville receives the 2015 Volunteer of the Year award during the Queen Anne’s County Republican Central Committee’s annual Reagan Day Dinner on Wednesday, May 18, at Prospect Bay Country Club in Grasonville.
Republican Central Committee Secretary Laura Knickman receives a citation from Gov. Larry Hogan and the District 36 State Delegation during the Reagan Day Dinner at Prospect Bay Country Club in Grasonville on Wednesday, May 18. Knickman received the honors for her work creating standards for the central committee filling legislative vacancies.