FAIR OAKS RANCH — Hoping to convince more folks to become politically active, the recently formed Hill Country Conservative Neighbors is looking for additional members.
The nascent group was founded by Lani Popp, who has been politically active since 1994, and 10 other women comprising the executive board.
“We believe in less government involvement and more liberty and freedom for those who are citizens,” Popp said.
The association held its first meeting April 9 at the Fair Oaks Ranch Golf & Country Club.
Membership is open to anyone in Fair Oaks Ranch and the surrounding area, which is one of the reasons why “Hill Country” is in the name.
Adult men and women, as well as teenagers, are invited to join.
“We were ecstatic about the turnout. We were really happy to see so many people come out,” said Councilwoman Laura Koerner, another founder.
The gathering was both educational and social in nature, acting as a mixer, offering information about the club and featuring a debate between two candidates vying for the Boerne Independent School District School Board Place 5 seat.
“We wanted it to be a kickoff, an introduction to our club to give them an idea of the type of events we would be putting on in the future,” Koerner added.
BISD office seekers Amy Lambiase and David Spencer discussed what they each would bring to the school board, and answered submitted questions.Spencer won the seat May 4.
“We want people to be able to come in and be civil. That was our goal for our first meeting,” Popp said. “I think we accomplished that pretty well.”
Besides the founders, another dozen individuals have expressed interest in joining. Officers include Secretary Stacie Matson, Treasurer Debra Stevens and communications coordinator Dedie Mantizas, Mayor Garry Manitzas’ wife.
Other local politically minded assemblies include Boerne Area Democrats, Kendall County Republican Women and Kendall Country Republican Club.
Members took two meetings to arrive at the new club’s name, according to Popp.
“We wanted to make sure we’re a welcoming group,” she said.
Nor does the organization wish to alienate potential members by advocating for only one political party.
“We were really trying to focus on our values and our beliefs, rather than a Republican-specific club,” Koerner said.
Get-togethers are tentatively scheduled for every other month and will either feature speakers or serve as social gatherings.
Club information can be found on Facebook by searching “Hill Country Conservative Neighbors.”
For now the scope is local, but no one is dismissing the 2020 presidential election.
Popp said the big picture is to get more people involved in the political process and give voters the tools they need to make informed choices at the polls.
“What we believe is that the average person is the government. Those people (elected officials) are our representation, but if we’re not expressing ourselves, then they don’t know how to represent us,” she added.
Popp has been a precinct chairwoman in Fair Oaks Ranch for the Republican Party of Bexar County for six years.
She’s worked on many campaigns over the span and is particularly interested in school boards.
“When you really get involved with it, you realize how much of a voice you have as an average citizen,” Popp said. “It’s kind of empowering.”
The 25-year educator is a special-education speech specialist at Kuentz Elementary School in Helotes.