Two big developments came during a recent caucus of the Howard County Republican Party.
During the caucus, members of the party convened to fill the void on the Howard County Council left in the wake of Councilman Jeff Stout’s unexpected death in February. In doing so, caucus members selected local restauranteur Thomas Trine to fill the vacant at-large seat on the council. And, at the end of the meeting, Chair Jamie Bolser announced her resignation.
“It has been my honor and privilege to serve in the capacity as the first woman Howard County Republican Chairperson. I decided to get involved in party leadership because I wanted to help embrace the change that so many wanted for our community. I wanted to help establish a different approach to ‘politics as usual.’ I feel that we ran campaigns that focused on what our candidates had to offer rather than focusing on our opposition. We made our table bigger to bring different viewpoints and focus on diversification,” said Bolser.
In a press release, Bolser said she wanted to devote more time to her family. She was appointed as the local party’s first female chair in August 2018.
Bolser led the party through sweeping victories in last year’s municipal elections, with Republicans winning every race on the ballot. Those victories allowed the party to take control of not only the mayor’s office but also seven of the up-for-grabs seats on the Kokomo Common Council and the city clerk’s office. The victories left Republicans holding every elected position within city government.
She also oversaw the party after the unearthing of then-newly-elected District 4 Councilman Greg Jones’ bigoted online statements targeting Muslims. Bolser went on to denounce Jones’ statements, and Jones resigned shortly thereafter. Similarly, Jones’ replacement, Roger Stewart, was found to have similar content on his Facebook page after he was appointed by a Republican caucus. Bolser also denounced Jones’ postings, but he retained the position.
A caucus has been scheduled for March 25 to choose Bolser’s successor.
Trine was selected by a majority of committee members during the caucus. As the co-owner of Windmill Grill and Elite Banquet and Conference Center, Trine said he brings a different perspective to the council.
“My background in business is different from most anyone else that’s on the council. I think I bring that perspective to the group that does a good job right now. I’m just looking to complement the people that are there right now,” said Trine.
Trine also commented on replacing Stout on the council.
“I’m honored and humbled that the caucus chose me to be the replacement for a man that there can be no replacement for,” said Trine. “It’s not a matter of replacing Jeff Stout because that is virtually impossible … There is no replacing Jeff, and at the same time I want to do whatever needs to be done to serve the public. I believe elected officials are servants of the taxpayer, not the other way around.”
This year the at-large positions on the council are up for election, and Trine was among those who have filed to run for the positions in this year’s election cycle. To this point, he is to fill the position through the end of the year.