By Kevin Kelley
If you’re a Republican living in Westlake, you now have two clubs seeking to represent you politically.
In April, attorney Robert Bodi formed the Westlake Repubicans.
“It was formed mainly because there was no [Republican] group in Westlake actively having public meetings,” Bodi told West Life.
While the Westlake Republican Club has been in existence for decades, it was not holding meetings on a regular basis, said Bodi, who was an unsuccessful candidate in 2011 for the Westlake City Schools Board of Education. Bodi said he heard from Republicans in Westlake who were frustrated by the existing club’s inactivity.
Bodi’s Westlake Republicans had been meeting on the third Thursday of every month. But that schedule will likely change, Bodi said, because it conflicted with City Council meetings and to not conflict with meetings of the newly formed West Shore Republican Club, which Bodi was active in forming.
Bodi said the objectives of the Westlake Republicans are not different from the longstanding Westlake Republican Club. He thinks the two groups can operate side by side within the community. If the latter organization becomes more active, they may need to discuss whether they’re unnecessarily competing or duplicating their efforts, Bodi said.
“It seems to me we’re the only group that’s actually active,” Bodi said of the Westlake Republicans.
While Bodi said the Westlake Republicans isn’t intended to be a more conservative version of the longstanding organization, he said the new club’s ideology will be member driven. The club’s goals are to have regular meetings and address issues, he said.
Bodi said he wants the Westlake Republicans to be a ground-up movement, a philosophy that he said has been missing among GOP members in the city.
“A city organization should be able to influence the party,” Bodi said.
Mark Boepple, the president of the Westlake Republican Club for the past four years, said he has no objections to Bodi’s organization.
“The more people involved the better,” Boepple told West Life.
Boepple explained that he received calls everyday from people frustrated by the direction the nation is headed. The No. 1 issue they are concerned with is spending by the federal government.
“Our spending is just nuts,” he said.
Boepple thinks the two Republican groups will complement each other. Members of the Westlake Republicans may attract more people to the conservative cause, he explained.
“People gravitate to people they know,” he said.
With regard to the suggestion that the Westlake Republican Club had not been active enough, Boepple said the organization’s activities was cyclical based on the election cycle.
Westlake’s top Republican, Mayor Dennis Clough, also explained that the Westlake Republican Club held meetings as needed based on the election cycle. The club has been viewed more as a business, he said.
“If we don’t have business, we don’t have meetings,” the mayor said.
Like Boepple, Clough also sees the second GOP club not as a sign of a party schism but as a way of getting more people involved in the political process.
“The more events Republicans have, the more opportunities people with a Republican philosophy have to participate,” Clough told West Life.
Boepple said the Westlake Republican Club will have an election night viewing party at Panini’s Bar and Grille in Westlake, an event he described as a kickoff for the group’s 2014 activities.