published Sunday, January 27th, 2013

New Hamilton County GOP leader Tony Sanders sees youth as key


by Chris Carroll

Newly elected Hamilton County Republican Party Chairman Tony Sanders thinks the party isn't doing enough to attract younger people.

Speaking Saturday at the party's biennial reorganization convention at the Hixson Middle School gym, Sanders described a day of mingling with party enthusiasts, lamenting that he'd only met "a few young people."

"We need to see more," Sanders said. "There's a lot of gray hair here."

More than 200 delegates unanimously elected Sanders. The Unum financial risk consultant and host of WGOW-FM's "Tony Sanders Outdoors" will serve a two-year term.

Soft-spoken and lauded for his fundraising ability, Sanders replaces Marty Von Schaaf, a Marshall Mize Ford salesman who decided against a second term. Other new officers are Vice Chairwoman Paulina Madaris, Treasurer George Jackson and Secretary Teresa Wood. There were no contested races.

The convention's unofficial theme was celebrating what several party officials described as "dominance" in local and state government.

"I think that's why we have a few empty seats today," Von Schaaf said, encouraging party operatives to avoid complacency.

In speeches, Von Schaaf and Sanders said self-identified Republicans realistically could thrive in March's nonpartisan elections for Chattanooga City Council, a historically center-left body.

Sanders also said he wanted to start a political action committee so the county GOP can donate directly to Republicans in general elections.

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