Nearly two weeks ago, the Republican Women of Clifton organized its inaugural meeting with 25 members, officially becoming part of the Virginia Federation of Republican Women.
Brought together to share political views and ideologies, the women started their club in the hopes of impacting the midterm elections on Tuesday, giving a voice to those who support President Bush, who support the war in Iraq and who believe a return to conservative values is what Fairfax County needs.
"The impetus started last election cycle," said Elizabeth Schultz, president of the organization. "A group of us ran into each other on the way to vote and we started talking about not having a voice and a place in the community."
With a little help from Julie Dime, legislative assistant to Del. Tim Hugo (R-40), some hard work and dedication, the group's first meeting was deemed a success.
Schultz said the Republican Women of Clifton responds to a need in the area to provide a voice for those who hold "traditional conservative values" in Fairfax County.
"There was no voice for everyone else, and there's a lot of everyone else," she said. "This is a conservative county and a conservative Zip code, it's time for us and our voter values."
A life-long resident of Fairfax County, Pam Marchetti said she's been troubled by the way her community seems to have changed in recent years.
“There’s a lot of important issues today and this message is not getting across as well as it could to the public,” said Marchetti, treasurer of the Republican Women of Clifton.
“It’d be nice to espouse traditional values and promote the traditional conservative values,” Marchetti said. “People have to decide what’s important to them and their families.”
A strong job market and stable economy has made Northern Virginia an enticing place to live, and as people move in for their jobs, they bring with them various points of view, which Marchetti said is what “makes America great.”
The people moving into the region don’t necessarily share the same political viewpoints as those who have lived here in the past, which Marchetti said may account for the “purple” turning of the political tide in Fairfax County, as Democratic supporters seem to be catching up to their Republican counterparts in numbers.
For Marchetti, joining the Republican Women of Clifton is also a chance to spend time with like-minded, intelligent women with whom she can discuss her values and concerns.
“I feel it’s important for women who feel the way we do to be able to come together and espouse their values without being attached by people who feel angry,” she said. “I like being able to discuss the topics of the day… in a group with similar values. It’s become scary for us to come out and say I support the president and what’s going on in Iraq.”
Gini Godard, the second vice president for membership with the Republican Women of Clifton, said she got involved in the group after receiving a call reminding her to vote.
“A group of us got together at Town Hall and before I knew it, we were setting up ground rules for meetings,” said Godard.
There's a sense of excitement around the new club, she said, a feeling of getting in on what could become a powerful group at the very beginning.
“Some women felt strongly that there should be a Republican counterpart to the Democratic group in town,” Godard said. “We definitely want to do some philanthropic work in the future and bring in guest speakers, maybe event set up a scholarship.”
But for now, the group is still recruiting new members and getting word out that Republican women in Clifton, Centreville, Burke and the surrounding areas have a club of their own.
“I’m really excited about this club,” Godard said. “I think it’ll be an awesome addition to our community.”
While handing out brochures and information about the group at Clifton Elementary during Election Day, Schultz said the response has been "universally positive. People are so thrilled to have a place to call home."
The group's next meeting, which Schultz said will be its first general meeting, is scheduled for Monday, November 13 at 7 p.m. in the Clifton Town Meeting Hall on Chapel Road.
In that meeting, Schultz said the women will set their agenda for the upcoming year, discussing what they hope to accomplish in the community and what role they want to play in the political process.
"On January 11, the VFRW supports a Legislation Day, where people can go to Richmond and see the legislature in action to inject ourselves in the process and see what we're working toward," Schultz said.
But for now, the women will be getting themselves organized, creating a focus for their work.
"This has been a long time coming," Schultz said," and I think we're going to be a group to be reckoned with."