Scott Tibbs

Why the new Monroe County Republican Party chairwoman matters

By Scott Tibbs, December 22, 2021

When I go to Republican Party or conservative events, I am often the youngest person in the room. This was one thing in 1999 when I moved back to Bloomington as a "townie," a year after graduating from Indiana University. But now that I am 48 years old, that is not a good thing. The Republican Party has generally done a bad job recruiting younger people into party activism.

Enter Taylor Bryant, the new chairwoman of the Monroe County Republican Party, and thirty years younger than I am. She got active in the party when she was thirteen years old, volunteering for a Republican candidate for county commissioner. Even before she was chairwoman, she addressed a glaring need in the local GOP by getting IU College Republicans involved in the local party.

When I first got involved in politics more than a quarter century ago, the college Republicans and the county party had a strong relationship, one encouraged by both sides. College Republicans were critical helpers in a number of local campaigns. In the last fifteen years, the relationship between students and the state party was good, but not much was happening with the local party. Bryant is finally changing that.

It makes sense for students to get involved in local politics for two reasons: First, it provides on-the-ground experience and local networking.

Second and more importantly, what local government does has an impact on students. Property taxes are a cost of doing business for landlords, and zoning impacts where students are allowed to live. Students drive on city streets that are plowed and maintained by local government, and their trash is collected by city sanitation. Mayor Hamilton's highly restrictive limits on private gatherings was directed at students. Public safety is a major issue, and that directly affects students. The policies implemented by local government has much more of an impact on students' day-to-day lives than what the federal government is doing.

There are challenges ahead for Bryant and for the party, but much infrastructure has been built over the last seven years. She has been a part of building that infrastructure. More importantly, Bryant knows what she does not know, and how much wisdom there is to be mined from people who have been around the block a few times. This is an exciting time for the party, and Bryant is the right person at the right time to move the Monroe County Republican Party back to being a competitive force in local elections.

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