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After sudden resignation, a new chairman is elected for the Denton County GOP

After sudden resignation, a new chairman is elected for the Denton County GOP

November 14
17:42 2017

The Denton County GOP has a new face after a special election was called last month to elect a new chairperson for the party.

John Dillard, the former mayor of The Colony, was elected as the new chairman on Oct. 11, effective immediately.

Dillard will succeed Lisa Hendrickson, who originally announced in June she would not be seeking a re-election in 2018. In early October she resigned due to health issues and a ruptured appendix.

Denton real estate agent Jayne Howell was Dillard’s opponent in the special election. Dillard won the final vote 48-44.

“I won, and it was a great feeling, but also I had to get to work,” Dillard said. “I got sworn in that night, Wednesday, and started on Monday. I have been busy as all get-out ever since.”

A chairman is elected every two years in the Republican primary election. However, when a Chairman resigns in the middle of a term there is a process in place to fill the vacancy, said Jennifer Harris, publicity chairman for the Denton County Republican Party.

Harris said the process involves a meeting of the party’s executive committee being called. This committee consists of precinct chairs from across the county. At this meeting, they elect an interim chairman to serve until the next election.

Dillard was elected as chairman of the Denton County Republican Party at that meeting.

Executive director of the Denton County Republican Party, Deon Starnes, is present at all meetings and said from the time Hendrickson resigned until Dillard was elected, the chair remained empty.

“As soon as she resigned, we took immediate action [for an election],” Starnes said. “The secretary of the party called for the special meeting, which corresponds with the bylaw and state laws.”

Dillard said the job is different every day, but not glamorous. The chairman runs meetings, works as the chief executive of the committee and comes up with programs and policies that help the party win elections.

With a background in politics, Dillard said being the county chair is an interesting job because he is trying to keep focused and manage the Denton County Republicans’ activities.

Being involved in local politics for the past 20 years, Dillard has been attending state conventions as a voting delegate. In 2016, he was the elector for the electoral college for congressional district 26, which he said was an interesting feat.

“Very few people get to do it — no one understands electoral college,” Dillard said. “I have also been assistant precinct chair.”

Dillard said Hendrickson has a lot of innovative ideas and wants to keep things stable within the party.

His two focuses include keeping Republicans in office up through the primary and in many cases to candidacy. He also wants to start working on more things for voter turnout for the general election November 2018. A low voter turnout is something he would like to fix.

However, his main goal is to is to keep Denton County and Texas red.

“The change I am going to do is more grassroots stuff,” Dillard said. “I’m not a guy who believes in big fundraisers, except for the Lincoln Reagan [dinner] and the volunteer banquet.”

Getting residents to go out and vote is another main focus Dillard will have, as well as recruiting more volunteers. He said he will accomplish this by communicating with people of all types.

“I retired last December as district manager, basically a sales guy,” Dillard said. “So you look at your products and see common goals, I sell you something and you are happy with it. You want to see that your side offers certain things they agree with, and they vote for it.”

One way to get people to go out and vote is to organize a walk, where volunteers knock on doors and educate residents about people on the ballot. Dillard said it is about what motivates the voters.

“It’s about what the people want,” Dillard said. “You have to get people to show interest in what is going on. Your vote is important. If you don’t vote then someone you don’t like may win the election. Right now there is an excellent group of people running for office. People need to educate themselves.”

The Denton County Republican Party office is comprised of three paid staff members and hundreds of part-time volunteers. The volunteers are the driving force of the party, who Dillard said there needs to be more of in any organization.

“I am very proud of my state, my country, I wanted to make things right,” Dillard said. “If you want things to be right for your kids and grandkids, you need to get involved and do things. It is not about me. I don’t get paid. I’ll do the job, get thanked and go home.”

Feature Image: John Dillard, a local Denton County politician, is running for the chair nomination for the Denton County Republican Party. Madison Gore

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Julia Falcon

Julia Falcon

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