By SHAWN CHRISTOPHER PHILLIPS
Most voters may know little about the countywide ballot position of county chair, and yet, both parties elect one in their primaries. The county chair is the head of the county executive committee, which in turn contains all of the elected precinct chairs.
Carl Gustafson became the Galveston County Republican Party interim county chair in December 2015. Gustafson then spent the unprecedented amount of $40,000 to win election in the March 2016 primary.
For the most part, precinct chairs are a politically active, highly opinionated group of individuals. The county Republican party executive committee contains enough talented and experienced precinct chairs to make the job of being a county chair fairly straightforward — for most people.
Since March 2016, Gustafson has consistently and systematically marginalized the executive committee with his constant breaching of the bylaws and rules.
One of the responsibilities of the county chair is to issue a proper call for executive committee regular meetings, but for something so simple, to date we have yet to have had one. It became obvious early on that Gustafson had little regard for the Galveston County Republican Party and its precinct chairs.
Another example of Gustafson’s disregard for the executive committee would be the unanimously passed resolution regarding the half billion dollar CCISD bond issued back in March 2017. Several precinct chairs researched the issue and found flagrant spending issues to which they objected. The unanimously passed resolution would have been a way of alerting and educating voters to what was contained within that bond issue. But Gustafson disagreed, and he did his best to walk all over the will of the executive committee and state party platform.
On Nov. 13, the executive committee held a regular meeting. When it became evident that Gustafson was completely disregarding Robert’s Rules of Order, about half of the executive committee walked out, and in short order most of the elected officials and candidates in attendance walked out as well.
Some of those that walked out could hardly be called political allies in the past, but they were united in walking out that night. It essentially amounted to a “no confidence” vote for Gustafson.
Until Gustafson was elected as county chair, I don’t know of county precinct chairs ever uniting to call a special meeting. Later in November, the county party will have its second special meeting under Carl’s reign. Politically speaking, Gustafson is damaged goods and toxic.
Even though, Gustafson has filed for re-election as the county chair, he would have to win it without much precinct chair support.
After Gustafson’s votes to demolish a central fire station in Friendswood in favor of building a “carousel” — I kid you not — it’s a wonder Gustafson got elected to Friendswood City Council in the first place.
Actually, that now demolished fire station is an appropriate metaphor for what Gustafson has done to the county party structure and underpinnings in Galveston County.
Shawn Christopher Phillips lives in Texas City.