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Republican caucuses staged at various sites in Lower Valley

Republicans throughout Yakima County gathered in 26 different community locations Tuesday night to take part in the Yakima County Republican Precinct Caucuses. The local caucuses serve as a way to bring people together to discuss various political issues and help mold the state Republican platform.

Chad Werkhoven, third district commissioner for the Yakima County Republican party, served as the chair of the Sunnyside area caucus, which took place in the gymnasium of the Sunnyside Christian Elementary School.

Werkhoven said 30 to 40 people attended the local caucus, which represents 13 area precincts. During the meeting, Werkhoven said those in attendance worked through a questionnaire that was sent out from the state Republican party. The questionnaire dealt with national, state and local issues.

Werkhoven said because of the size of the local gathering the discussions that took place were informal, allowing people to talk about different political issues they are concerned about.

According to Werkhoven, it was nice to be able to talk politics with people and have them share similar views.

Werkhoven said the main issue that came up during discussions involved making sure that President George Bush is re-elected in 2004.

"That was the biggest issue," he said.

Other issues involved concerns about growing government and over regulation.

During the local caucus, Werkhoven said 17 delegates were chosen to take part in the upcoming Yakima County Republican Convention, slated to take place in Yakima on April 24.

In Mabton, Raul Almeida didn't have as much luck with turnout as the Sunnyside area caucus. Almeida, who chaired the Mabton area caucus, which included three precincts, said no one came to take part in the caucus.

"We were ready to go, but no one showed up," Almeida said, noting that the only two people in attendance were himself and the local Republican secretary.

The Granger area caucus proved to have a little more success with attendance than Mabton, with three people attending the local meeting, which represented four precincts.

John Linde, who chaired the Granger caucus, shared Werkhoven's enthusiasm for being able to talk politics with people who share similar views.

"We were in total agreement about politics," Linde said of the three people who attended the Granger meeting.

Linde said the group talked about the different issues facing the country, including gay marriages and abortion.

Linde said of the people who attended the Granger caucus, at least two of them will go on to the county convention.

Linde said he wishes more people would have attended last night's meeting, noting that it's a good way for people to be involved with what is happening in the country.

"Obviously, people's input here is important," Werkhoven said.

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