It's an exciting time to be a Republican, Craig resident John Ponikvar said.
His words came Monday night, shortly after he and three others were elected as new officers of the Moffat County Republican Central Committee.
Ponikvar didn't hold back his enthusiasm about the party's future.
"I think the Democrats are going to bring us more toward a socialist society, and Republicans are going to have to stand up for what we believe in," said Ponikvar, 52-year-old owner of NAPA Auto Parts in Craig.
State and federal Democrats are pushing several pieces of legislation that will show voters what big government spending looks like, he said.
"The more social programs we have, the more strings are attached and the more government can control our lives," Ponikvar said.
The Republican Party will allow voters to get their individual freedoms back, he added.
Ponikvar has been involved with the party for about 23 years. His various positions have included three stints as precinct co-chair for three different Moffat County precincts; different terms as treasurer, secretary and vice chair of the Central Committee; and one run as chair of the House District 57 Committee.
Ponikvar is a steadfast Republican, and the other three newly elected Central Committee officers matched his party enthusiasm.
Brandi Sterle, 25, is a paraprofessional who works with special education students at Moffat County High School.
She said her new position as Central Committee secretary will help her become more involved, something all young people should try to do.
"I want to have a say in what happens," Sterle said. "That's what America is all about."
Residents should do what they can to help the community, and politics offers a way to play an important part, said Nikki McLeslie, who was elected Monday as the group's treasurer after serving a two-year term as vice chair.
McLeslie, 43, is a secretary at the high school as well as co-owner of Precision Auto Service in Craig.
"This is just a way to contribute to the community and help promote my beliefs and my values," she said.
Her aspirations mirror those of the Central Committee's new vice chair, K.C. Hume.
All Central Committee officers exist to promote Republican values, Hume said. He agreed with Ponikvar that those values begin with individual freedom, and that is important enough to sacrifice whatever free time he might have.
In addition to his role with the Central Committee, Hume serves as a Moffat County Sheriff's Office lieutenant, Craig Fire/Rescue captain and emergency medical technician for The Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Service.
He also owns his own business, K & E Concepts, a computer consulting and automobile locksmith company.
"This is the grass-roots portion of local government, the democratic process, the process that our nation was founded on," he said. "You bet it's important."
Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.