By Tom Tolen /

A man whose forebears were among the original settlers in the Brighton area, and who himself has made his mark in this generation, has been named the Republican of the Year in Livingston County.

John Conely of Green Oak Township was selected for the honor by the local Republican Party’s 38-member Executive Committee and the results were announced at the party’s annual Lincoln Day dinner last Thursday. A packed crowd of about 750 of the party faithful attended the event, held at the Crystal Gardens Banquet Center on Grand River in Genoa Twp.

Livingston County Republican Party Chair Meghan Reckling says the Republican of the Year award is open to anyone in the county, even non-Republicans. There were eight nominees for the award this year. All elected Republican officials in the county, including Board of Commissioners members, are on the committee. Presenting the award to Conely was County Republican Party Vice Chair Joseph Riker. Conely will receive a crystal elephant — representing the Republican Party - in recognition of his award.

Reckling told WHMI there were several persons nominated for the award but Conely stood out from the others, saying that, in particular, “John has done a lot for the Brighton School District.” In accepting the award Conely expressed his thanks to the executive committee, saying he was deeply honored. Conely told WHMI that it has been a pleasure serving the community for these many years, particularly its youth.

Reckling cited Conely’s involvement in the Robotics and auto shop programs, and he also was one of the early proponents of a STEM program — integrating Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — that led to the new STEAM Center. STEAM is simply STEM with the arts added to the acronym. Conely has also been a volunteer mentor for many years for the Science Olympiad. He is also a trustee on the Brighton Area Schools Board of Education, and is serving his third term. Conely initially served on the school board for two terms, but elected not to run for reelection in 2018. However, in 2020 he decided to run again, and was elected to another four-year term. His current term expires in 2024.

Reckling said Conely has been popular among local Republicans during the COVID pandemic for his staunch opposition to mandating that students wear masks. Conely owns Conely Auto Sales on Grand River, and former owner of a car wash and oil change business, which he sold. Conely Square, a large development of townhouses on Flint Road now nearing completion, was named for him after he sold the land to the developer.