Clark County Republicans elect two new leaders

Introduction of monthly gatherings designed to increase participation

By Eric Florip, Columbian transportation & environment reporter

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The Clark County Republican Party elected new leaders this month and announced a renewed effort to reach out to local residents.

Republican precinct committee officers in Clark County chose Kenny Smith as the new party chairman. He takes over from Lynda Wilson, who resigned last month to focus on a run for the 17th Legislative District House seat now held by state Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver.

Smith has been active in local politics since 2007. He most recently served as 18th Legislative District chairman. In a released statement, Smith cited the growing national debt and citizen inaction among the reasons he decided get involved. Smith lives in Hockinson with his wife.

Officers chose Brenda Poletti as the Clark County Republican Party vice chair. Poletti has been involved in several campaigns and other efforts since 2011, according to the party. She lives in the Orchards area with her husband and five children.

Poletti replaces former party Vice Chair Steven Nelson.

When Wilson resigned, the organization's bylaws automatically made Nelson the new party chair, Smith said.

Unable to take on that role's responsibilities, Nelson "reluctantly" stepped aside, Smith said, but will continue to play a role in the local party.

The changes come as local candidates from both parties begin launching campaigns for this year's elections.

The newly elected Republican party leaders announced a plan Friday to reach out to community members with monthly public gatherings. The first will happen at 2 p.m. March 1, at Coffee Villa, 13011 N.E. Fourth Plain Blvd., Suite 106, in Vancouver.

"A lot of Clark County citizens are paying attention but have never been in contact with the local Republican party," Smith said. "We look forward to meeting with them."