The Bradley County Republican Party selected David Benton and Lita Esquinance as Republican Man and Woman of the Year, respectively.
“It is a privilege for the Bradley County Republican Party to honor two of our most active supporters. Both David and Lita have contributed so much to our party,” said Adam Lewis, chairman of the Bradley County Republican Party.
Benton has been a lifelong resident of Cleveland and Bradley County. He graduated from Cleveland High School and Lee College, now Lee University, with a double major in natural science and mathematics, with secondary education certification. He received the college’s math award after exceptional performance on a math aptitude test given by the college.
While at Lee College, he worked in a student intern program for NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. He was also a member of the Upsilon Xi Fraternity. After college, he elected to work with the family auto business, which he now manages. He has worked there 48 years.
While still in college he dated and married Sandra York Benton, the daughter of Ralph A. York, for whom the Republican Man of the Year Award is named. York finally agreed that David could marry his teenage daughter because he knew David as a "church boy," and his parents were Republicans.
After York's untimely death in 1997, Benton became a faithful supporter of the Bradley County Republican Party, rarely ever missing a party meeting.
Benton’s grandfather, Glover Ledford, a life-long minister and Republican supporter, was elected county trustee for Clay County, North Carolina, which was known as a Democratic county at that time. Ledford was later elected a state representative for North Carolina. Benton's parents. Jeanette Ledford Benton and the late Herbert Benton also supported Republican candidates.
Benton has been an amateur radio operator since 1968. He holds an FCC issued advanced-class license. He is a former vice president and president of the Ocoee Amateur Radio Society, Inc. and he now serves as the secretary/treasurer of the group. He is the trustee of the club's callsign, W40AR, and the trustee of the club's 442.925 repeater.
He is also a member of the Cleveland Amateur Radio Club, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service, Amateur Radio Emergency, Sky Warm, and Deputy Coordinator for the Auxiliary Communications Service under the Bradley County Emergency Management Agency.
He has been diligent for many years to provide emergency communications during times of disaster such as, severe thunderstorms, flooding, tornados and other natural disasters.
Benton, along with two other Bradley Hams, received special recognition from the American Radio Relay League for providing emergency communication during the tornadoes in Bradley County on April 27, 2011.
Benton also serves as a co-treasurer for the Chestuee Memorial Association, which maintains the Chestuee Cemetery, where his beloved father-in-law is buried.
Esquinance has been a resident of Cleveland most of her life. She attended Blythe Avenue School, Allen School and Bradley Central High School. She graduated from Cleveland State Community College with honors obtaining an associate degree in accounting. She continued her studies at Tennessee Wesleyan College graduating magna cum laude with a bachelors of applied science degree in accounting.
She is married to Dewey Esquinance, who teaches Web Design and CAD at Polk County High School. She has one son, Dewey, (operations manager at Ace Hardware) married to Terry (teacher at Cleveland Middle School) and four wonderful grandchildren: Gavin and Haley Esquinance and Jacob and Ethan Ball.
The grandchildren are all involved in the Republican Party, recently hanging the banners and helped setup the Republican Women’s Annual Picnic. Esquinance attends United Christian Church.
Esquinance has been employed at Local Government Corporation for 25 years as court manager. Her staff of 12 are responsible for installing, training and supporting court software in courts all over Tennessee.
Esquinance worked with administrative office of the Courts helping design TnCIS, the court software which is now installed in over 300 courts and city courts in Tennessee. She works closely with the Comptroller’s office, Department of Safety, Department of Corrections, TBI and other state agencies who interface with the courts. She attends three state court clerk conferences a year for training, keeping up with legislative changes that affect TN Courts. She is responsible for teaching court classes at the Local Government Corp. annual users meeting.
Esquinance was awarded the Distinguished Service Award in 2001 by the Tennessee State Court Clerks Association.
Before her employment with LGC, she worked at Bradley County Circuit Court as bookkeeper and then administrative assistant to Elizabeth Carson who was Circuit Court clerk at the time. During that time, she worked with current Circuit Court Clerk Gayla Miller and Dale Dixon .
Esquinance has served as president of the Bradley County Republican Women for six years and served on the Bradley GOP Executive Board. She was recently elected as Tennessee Republican Women Area 3-B vice president and is now serving as interim Bradley County Republican Women’s president.
The Republican Women is a grassroots volunteer political group organized to promote Republican values and to help get Republican candidates elected for good government.
Esquinance’s personal goal is to unite the Republican Party and works hard to provide venues to bring Republicans together.
The Bradley County Republican Women hosts an annual picnic and the annual GOP Christmas party.
The Bradley County Republican Women meet the third Thursday of each month at noon at Mountain View Inn.