WESTPHALIA, Mo. - The Osage County Republican Committee rolled out a new voter program, expected to be replicated across the state, at its annual Lincoln Day Banquet on Thursday at the Westphalia Lions Club Hall.
"Get one more; every vote counts," said Shirley Luebbering, the newest elected committeewoman from the Washington Township.
Apathy and low-informed voters are the top concerns, she said.
The nearly 200 who attended the event were encouraged to educate at least one new voter.
As incentive, long-time committeewoman Mary Pat Luebbering sewed a luxurious quilt to be drawn for from among those committing to the outreach.
"We can start the change tonight, by getting one more vote," Luebbering urged.
Most county Republican committees hold a Lincoln Day event - honoring one of the most significant Republicans in history, raising funds for future endeavors and hearing from elected officials and those announcing candidacy.
Members of the committee are elected, two from each township within the county, in presidential election years.
The Democrats have a similar committee and event.
The most positive report of the night likely came from Osage County Sheriff Michael Dixon. In the past year, crimes required to be reported to the FBI declined by 36 percent, while daily calls for service increased from an average of 12 per day to 37 per day.
"We're proud we've been able to reduce crime," Dixon said.
He attributed the success to a proactive approach and zero tolerance on drugs, while at the same time coming in under budget.
The keynote speaker was Missouri House Speaker Pro Tem Denny Hoskins.
Recalling his 2008 election, where he won by only 122 votes, Hoskins endorsed Luebbering's "Get 1 More" initiative.
The Fatima graduate shared what a challenge it can be to stay true to one's morals and beliefs when in elected office.
The most discouraging report, for most in attendance, came from U.S. Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer.
"The president's health care law is in the process of imploding as we speak," he said. "We have not seen the worst yet."
For example, he predicted more doctors currently taking Medicare and Medicaid will restrict their practices.
"The American people were hoodwinked on this, and they're going to take it out on the Democrats," Luetkemeyer said. That debacle combined with the nation's poor foreign affairs and economy currently, should give Republicans a boost in the next election, he suggested.
State Sen. Mike Kehoe said he has been concentrating of infrastructure issues, and Rep. Dave Schatz has been working on the budget.
"The governor promised more than he can deliver," Schatz said. "We must do the responsible thing, the right thing, and live within our means."
On the county level, commissioner Larry Kliethermes praised the Osage County health department for receiving grants to offset general revenue expenses.
The county has invested in a GIS program compatible with 911, and the emergency management offices are completing documentation for the State Emergency Management Agency for possible relief due to flooding aftermath.
Now the county is preparing for the address changes coming with the completion of the U.S. 50 improvements and developing a county website.
"We've come a long way; we've got a long way to go," said County Clerk Patrick Steele. "We're all in it to make Osage County the best that it can be."
And finally, Catherine Hanaway - former Missouri Eastern District U.S. Attorney and the first female Speaker of the House for Missouri - was introduced as candidate for governor in 2016.
The reason she has started campaigning so early is "because the Democrats have already started," Hanaway said, referring to Attorney General Chris Koster, who already has raised $1.6 million.
Hanaway said Democrat leadership has not reflected the values of the electorate.
"It's time for a change," she said.