Saturday was an experience that I want share with you all and I hope you read through the entirety of this column.

I started getting involved in local politics about two years ago. Although I voted in elections prior to that, I use to be a person that thought my vote didnít matter and I then I thought thatís all I could do to try and change things.

How WRONG I was.

I became a Republican Party precinct chairman so I could have a bigger voice and more of an impact on getting people to vote. I quickly realized that wasnít enough so I decided to run for office and had to give up my precinct chairman position. My bid for county commissioner fell short. I received just over 18 percent of the vote with two other candidates running against me. I sincerely thank everyone who supported my campaign.

I could have tucked my head between my legs and given up after the defeat, but I wanted to stay involved.

Why?

Because I still believe we can make a difference from the outside without being on the inside. My campaign was about me trying to get on the inside to make an immediate impact at the local level ó but that does not mean I wanted to give up from the outside if I lost my election.

Iím not the type of person that crawls into a shell when defeated. I am the type of person that finds another path of strength and benefit that I can offer to my fellow citizens.

You may ask, why do I feel I need to do this?

The reason is because too many of us are too busy making ends meet, providing for families, enjoying the rewards of our hard work, are fed up with government, feel that we canít do anything about our grievances and maybe some people really could care less.

Oh, how wrong I was with my thinking and how wrong I believe you are with your thinking if you thought like me.

We ALL need to make time to be involved. Iím not criticizing you for having to focus on survival and your other commitments, but I urge you to make time, even just a little, to become MORE involved in your government ó whether local, state or national.

Sharing on Internet websites or in newspaper letters is NOT enough.

OK, so Iíve been involved in local politics for about the past two years, became a precinct chairman and ran for county office. What happened next?

Iím helping candidates who are in the runoff election.

OK, what else?

I became a delegate to the Ellis County Republican Convention. Anyone can; you just needed to go to your voting precinct convention. Additionally, I was fortunate enough to be appointed as chairman of the Rules Committee of the Ellis County Republican Convention.

So what?

Being a delegate is VERY important. This is the most grassroots involvement you can make in having an impact on the direction of the Republican Party. What you do at the precinct conventions and what you do at the county convention goes directly to the state convention. The state convention is what helps set the Republican Party platform and the rules of the Republican Party. It also influences our legislators on what they need to be focused on as our elected officials.

Again, so what?

Delegations are the voice of the voters. In the case of Republican convention, delegates are voted upon to represent YOU, as a Republican voter.

Furthermore, so what?

There were many precincts in Ellis County that didnít have any delegates, which means the voice of Republicans within entire precincts had no voice. We also had some precincts that only had one or two delegates ó despite being allotted 10, 12, or more positions.

That means the ideas of a large majority of our Republican population is going unheard and not being represented.

What does this mean?

This means when we go to the state convention to help mold the Republican Party and set the Republican Party platform, that YOUR voice and opinions may not be completely represented.

WE are the Republican Party and YOU should be part of the Republican Party. Our voice IS the Republican Party.

Be involved. We passed a lot of resolutions on Saturday that will help build the next Republican Party platform. What do you want that platform to be? Were you involved? Were you a delegate to the county convention? Are you a delegate to the state convention? Did you submit a resolution?

I am now a delegate to the state convention in June and I will have a voice. Do you want to know how I got there?

I got there because out of 12 possible positions, only three of us in my precinct showed up for the precinct convention.

What would your chances have been to become a delegate to the state convention even if you were a county delegate?

Pretty darn high!!!

If memory serves me correct, everyone (except one person ó moved to alternate by request from the actual delegate) who wanted to be a state delegate was approved. Ellis County is sending 67 of our allotted 67 delegates to the state convention. You could have been one of those or you could have been one of the alternate delegates. There were many more alternate delegate positions that were not filled because of the lack of applicants.

As I stated earlier, this IS the foundation of the Republican Party and you could be a part of that foundation. Your voice and involvement matters beyond just voting in elections.

Those who are familiar with county and state conventions know that it is usually customary that current elected officials be nominated and approved to be delegates or alternates.

I am proud to announce that a delegate made a motion to strike Ellis County Judge Carol Bush from the alternate delegate list. If you are wondering, despite my prior vocal disapproval of Judge Bushís previous policies, no I am not the delegate that made this motion nor did I know the delegate beforehand who made this motion.

Did I support this motion? ABSOLUTELY!

The reasoning/justification for her being stricken was that she was previously censured by the Ellis County Republican Party for raising property taxes, has turned her back on the citizens of Ellis County and turned her back on the Ellis County Republican Party.

Of course I voted to approve the motion. It passed. Judge Bush was stricken from the delegation list to the state convention.

Does that one motion change much?

Not really, but it sends a VERY strong message (I believe stronger than a censure) that the Republican Party will not tolerate elected officials that run under the Republican Party name who do not support or acknowledge the party and who violate Republican Party principles.

What is my personal opinion of the convention?

Considering this was my very first convention, I had a good time. I went in with about two hours sleep because of work commitments. I had everything prepared for the Rules Committee and we passed everything without any significant changes.

As chairman of the Rules Committee, I presented the supplemental rules on stage to a body of about 100+ and the supplemental rules were passed unanimously. I couldnít have done it without the support of friends in helping me prepare and I definitely couldnít have done it without a focused committee.

I also chose to speak many of times when discussing proposed resolutions to be sent to the state convention. I think I spoke more publicly during the convention than I had to when I ran for county commissioner.

It was a good experience because my opinions helped influence the delegate bodyís vote and other delegatesí opinions helped me consider my votes.

It was a long day. It was boring at times and exciting at times. That doesnít matter. What matters is that I, along with many of my fellow Ellis County residents, are helping to change our state government and our federal government.

I honestly realized today that OUR VOICE MATTERS. We just have to utilize our voice in more areas than just at the ballot box or complaining. Party conventions are just another mechanism that we can use that WILL make a REAL impact.

Progress is progress even if you only have small impact on improvements. Itís about taking steps forward, no matter how small, that lead to larger changes.

I encourage you to get involved and I will help you get involved. My first recommendation is to start attending your county Republican Party meetings. I also encourage you to attend government meetings whether it be school board meetings, city council meetings, local emergency planning committee meetings, county commissionersí court meetings, etc.

My point is to GET INVOLVED because YOUR VOICE DOES MATTER and YOUR VOICE WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Dave Vance is a resident of† Waxahachie.