TAMPA — Talk went around at Tuesday night's Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee meeting and elections about change, inclusion and outreach.
Then, after all was said and voted on at the Alfano Conference and Banquet Center in North Tampa, members chose traditional Republican values and a leadership willing to get back to the party's roots.
Deborah Cox-Roush, owner of Cox Catering, which holds a long-term lease at the Alfano Center, ran unopposed and was elected as chairwoman.
"I think that they're excited," she said. "Every board member is in their first time in party leadership, so I think that they got the new blood in and we're ready to go out and restore our party."
The party took some heat in late October when outgoing chairman David Storck forwarded an e-mail warning members of "the threat" of "carloads of black Obama supporters coming from the inner city to cast their votes."
After being chided by party members, Storck did not run for re-election but left on a high note Tuesday to a standing ovation.
"It's been a rough year for Republicans in Hillsborough," he said. "But we're moving forward."
Art Wood, a traditional conservative fundraiser and President and CEO of Railroad & Industrial Credit Union, won vice chair.
Rep. Rich Glorioso of District 62 nominated Wood pointing out that the 2008 elections were not a total loss for Republicans.
"We kept every seat we had in the House and Senate," Glorioso said. "And it was thanks to people like Art and others in this room getting out there."
Wood beat out two other candidates for vice chair: Eddie Adams Jr., who emphasized reaching out to the black community, and Angelette Aviles, who urged better communication with the media.
Wood stressed during his speech that he "lived his values and tried to make his life make a difference."
He said leadership skills and fiscal responsibility will help his party successful in 2010. "I don't know all the answers," he said. "But I can solve problems."
Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3373.