Rebecca Webster/Recorder staff Montgomery County Republican Chairman Joseph Emanuele, right, addresses the crowd for final remarks at the end of the county GOP's annual dinner Monday. Looking on, from left, are state Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, and state Supreme Court Justice Joseph Sise.
By REBECCA WEBSTER
Recorder News Staff
FORT JOHNSON -- Montgomery County Republican Committee members gathered at the Rolling Hills Country Club Monday evening for their annual Salute to Reagan Dinner.
Keynote speaker for the evening was U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, who at this time last year made one of his first official Montgomery County appearances at this very dinner.
"This was a particularly tough cycle. I'll be candid with you. It was tougher than I thought," he said.
However, Gibson said, Montgomery County was "rock solid," and out of all of the counties he covers, Montgomery County gave the Republican his largest margin of victory in November.
"And that's because of how hard you work."
He told the party that his message to them was simple: keep the faith.
The crux of Gibson's speech focused on the leaders of the past, who made the country what it is.
"This is the party, that with its birth in Abraham Lincoln, we are the party of equal opportunity," he said. "When you talk about the American Dream you see the values that are instilled in us, that are captured here in this room. This is our party."
In the 1850s, people talked about freeing slaves, but it was Lincoln, "a leader of action," that did it, Gibson said.
"This man had incredible personal and professional courage," he said, who had the vision to inspire those around him and stick to his mission.
"It was always about service. That was our leader. That was the original leader of our party. Think of that," he said.
Theodore Roosevelt was also one of those leaders of action, Gibson said, and then pointed to the cut-out of Ronald Reagan and described him as the one who help inspire economic growth, opportunity, and national strength.
"We had a leader of action in Ronald Reagan, a Republican president," Gibson said. "So let's rally around that. When you hear people talking us down, talking bad about us in the media, president talking us down, we know that we have the right message. We know we have the values and the message to grow this economy, to move us back to a balanced budget, and to protect this exceptional way of life.
"This message is a message for all people, whether they be Republican, Democrat, or independent."
Gibson told the group that this will be an important year, and the best century, yet for the Republican party.
"I see the strength of America in counties like Montgomery."
Earlier in the evening, before the committee members dined on a buffet meal, state Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, addressed the group and told them that although he lost Montgomery County as part of his district, he will "always be Montgomery County's senator."
And with Montgomery County Supreme Court Justice Joseph Sise acting as the Master of Ceremony, committee members briefly heard from Saratoga County Justice Thomas Nolan and Washington County Justice Stan Pritzker as they spoke about their campaigns for Supreme Court justice seats for the Fourth Judicial District of New York.
"We're going to take it to them," Nolan said. "They're not going to have an easy race."
Joseph Emanuele, chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Committee, thanked the members for attending the dinner and left them with some thoughts for the year.
"As we enter another year, I want us all to remain optimistic, very optimistic," Emanuele said.
Before the evening ended, Dr. Mo Rad went to the podium to briefly address his sadness with the bombing event in Boston last week. Rad said when he came to the United States 40 years ago, Boston was his first stop and is his home. He called the bombing "heartbreaking."
He asked everyone in the room to stand up and observe a moment of silence in honor of those who lost their lives, were injured, or effected in any way by the bombing.