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"Responsibility, patriotism, rightsA local chapter of Young Republicans forms."

"In a mock election by Bainbridge High students last fall, a map in school hallway showed that every state went to Al Gore or Ralph Nader.In fact, senior Alysha Perisho concedes, Bush only got about 10 percent of the vote.Given those results, starting a Kitsap County chapter of the group Young Republicans might seem like an uphill battle. But, as co-organizer and 31-year-old Bainbridge resident Kirsten Scheffler says, You gotta start somewhere.Josh Wymer, 21, of Poulsbo sounds a positive note.We want to articulate our message and facilitate debate, Wymer says. We don't expect an easy road, but I don't see any reason why things can't change.Wymer points out that Young Republicans - founded in the late 1800s - are the oldest political activist club in the country.A lot of people view politics as sloppy and corrupt, he said. But millions who participate are hard-working and honest. We want people to learn how to become involved and how the system works, because we believe that individuals can make a difference.Wymer, who comes from a third-party family background, says he is drawn to conservative politics because of the emphasis on such values as fiscal responsibility, patriotism - he notes that Scheffler's father is a decorated war hero - property rights, taxation without representation, and the belief that every voter should have an active voice in government.Perisho adds that participants don't even have to be Republicans to join. We welcome anyone who wants to come and learn, she said.They take a liberal view of young, emphasizing that membership is open to anyone between the ages of 16 and 40.Since meeting during last fall's campaign, the three have spent several months doing what Perisho terms ground-pounding, the behind-the-scenes work to get organized and promote Republican positions.While Perisho is a relative neophyte - her serious involvement in politics began in last year's election - Wymer is a seasoned political pro despite his youth. The Olympic College student is executive treasurer of the Kitsap County Republican Party. He served as a page for then-Rep. Steve Hargrove of Poulsbo nine years ago, and acted as county chair for gubernatorial candidate John Carlson and county vice-chair for the Bush/Cheney campaign.My family always emphasized involvement, he said. So I've also worked for the United Way and Red Cross.Scheffler was campaign coordinator for Dan Murphy, a Bainbridge Republican who failed in his bid to unseat state Sen. Betti Sheldon.I saw all aspects of the campaign, and got to know a plethora of people, she said. Republicans aren't just the 'country club' stereotype. A lot of them are salt of the earth.Once the county-wide group is organized, local areas can form their own chapters, and the threesome intend to conduct organizational meetings on Bainbridge no later than the end of May.Any area can have multiple chapters.We'd like that on Bainbridge, Scheffler said, noting that between students and community members, they've already received commitments from at least the 11 people needed for a single chapter.Next Saturday's organizational meeting begins at 12 p.m. at Bremerton's Cornerstone Building, 5610 Kitsap Way. Wymer asks RSVPs to either (360) 440-2404 or bhsrepublican@aol.com, so they can gauge the number of pizzas to order. "

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