The words “Hello patriots” sent a rumble of applause through a crowd of about 100 July 13 as the Dawson County Tea Party met for the first time.
Standing up to announce why they decided to attend the organizational meeting, one supporter called out, “I want my country back.”
Another said she wanted the Constitution to be used for its intended purpose instead of “walking over” individual freedoms.
The Tea Party movement, which emerged last year following a string of protests on taxes, is a grassroots reaction that focuses on individual freedom, smaller government and upholding the Constitution.
Cited as a nonpartisan group, much of the tea party’s latest efforts focus on opposition to President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan and administrative appointments.
“Those that we will support are those candidates that go back to being conservative, under God,” said Hugh Geeslin, who helped organize the meeting.
“We will do what ever we can to unseat the present administration, which is leaning too far toward nationalizing everything and making this a socialistic nation instead of the free enterprise republic that we are.”
The group met at the Lakeview Center on Dawson Forest Road and elected a group of officers to oversee developing the organization locally.
Bobbie Blackburn, who attended the first tea party in Washington last year, was selected as chairman.
“It was such an unbelievable experience to be there with a million and five [people] that all think like you do,” Blackburn said. “I think the government has forgot this is about we the people.”
Vice chair Fred Hintze, secretary Mary Jane Childs and treasurer Bill Saling were also elected last week.
Geeslin and Vernon Smith complete the board of directors.
“This is an amazing event, how it has exploded and come together,” Geeslin said. “The Pickens County group only had four people at their first meeting.”
The next meeting is at 7 p.m. Aug. 17 at the Lakeview Center.