2008-06-05 / News

Willis seeks national GOP Committee seat

By Rudd Hall

Norma Willis Norma Willis As Eileen Slocum of Newport steps down from her position of Republican National Committeewoman, Norma Willis of Jamestown hopes to fill the seat.

Norma was born and raised in the mountains of North Carolina. Her father worked in the construction industry and the family moved often to where the work was. The family moved to North Kingstown where she attended high school and continued her higher education at Brown University. After a short teaching career, she became a fulltime mother, raising four children.

Not long after she stopped teaching, however, Republican Town Father, Ben Sturges, called Willis with a request to "consider being considered" for the School Committee. She said yes and held her committee seat for the next fifteen years.

Another phone call would bring Willis to yet another position- as member of the new Board of Regents for Education. She became vice chairwoman of the board for six years.

By this time she had moved to Jamestown and was looking forward to some time out of the public eye, but, once again, was asked to serve in public office. The town committee was meeting and they were desperate for someone to run for the legislature. Willis agreed, and was elected to the House of Representatives and was twice elected a delegate, and later alternate to national party conventions.

After eight years in the House she wanted out because she felt things were stagnant and no change was happening. She felt, and still believes, change can happen. "We need ground troops," which are people who want to "get together socially, and be excited about promoting change, fresh innovative ideas," she said. "That's what's important, that's how change comes about," Willis added.

That is one of her goals as Committeewoman, to energize the party, take it out of the "woe is me, we're

the minority party," work on a bipartisan

level and make Rhode Island into not red or blue, "but hopefully a purple state."

Another, more revolutionary, idea is her plan to bring financial stability to the party. "I want stable funding for the state committee. This will ensure that they have the means to find candidates and have them elected," Willis said, adding, "I'm working to get us endowed- my idea is comparable to that of compound interest," she said. She explained that the party has "anchors," who give about $1,000 a year to the party and the party uses that money to sustain itself. Instead of giving it to the party to sustain themselves in 2009, when they won't have to be raising money for candidates, that money should go into an endowment, Willis said. "It's my idea, I'd like that to happen," she said.

Willis went on to explain, "because if there's 200 people in Rhode Island who would be willing to give $5,000 each, this money will never be spent (due to lack of elections), it would go into this endowment, which would total $1,000,000. The party would live off the interest and dividends, and if my idea takes off, next year we'd have another $1,000,000, and so on." She added, "If this had happened, 20 to 30 years ago, when I first got in, just think of the endowment we'd have now."

Willis said that she has worked tirelessly for the Republican Party for many years, on the state level and hopes to continue that service on the national level. "The Republican Party needs to remember its fundamental principles: government that governs least, governs best. Government closest to the people is most effective. The strength of our nation lies with the freedom of the individual. The role of government is to provide only those functions which cannot be done by individuals or private organizations, and a strong national defense is necessary to protect our freedom."

"Now I have a chance to bring about real change, I hope the voters will allow me to do that on June 12. And if not, I plan to work along side whomever the voters choose to fill the position, without question."

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