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‘Kessler Conservatives’ Group Sees Unexpected Growth

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NextDoor app | Image by Tada Images

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Nathan Roberts, one of the founders of Kessler Conservatives group, said he had no idea when he connected with co-founder Phillip Granderson that the two of them would find their voice in a neighborhood that often left them feeling ostracized and alone.

When Roberts moved back to Dallas in 2016, he settled in Kessler Park, an area south of Interstate 30 described as having a “dense suburban feel,” where 7,948 – according to Roberts – primarily liberal, professional people raise their families.

Roberts quickly came to a conclusion that he was the minority in his neighborhood. During the lead-up to the 2020 election, he noticed that lawns across his community were backdrops for Biden/Harris signs.

A self-identified conservative, Roberts said he felt he had to shrink himself around those who did not share his same values. That changed after he got involved in a heated debate one day on a neighborhood app.

The app, called NextDoor, is designed to connect people with others in their communities. While on the platform, Roberts joined in on a discussion between two disagreeing individuals. One of those was Granderson.

Granderson and Roberts found common ground during the conversation and met up for coffee.

After the two men talked, they quickly became friends, which led them back to the neighborhood app to start the Kessler Conservatives group.

“Over time, we got quite a few subscribers just through word of mouth, and today we have 135 members in a very small area of a very liberal part of Dallas,” says Roberts.

Roberts explains that while he eventually found people with like-minded values, some were scared to speak up or show support for their beliefs for fear of being targeted and attacked.

“So many people have said, ‘we are so glad that you started this because we too felt we might be the only ones that have conservative values in the neighborhood,'” Roberts explained. Especially during the 2016 election, “people feared retribution or violence if you put a Trump sign in your yard,” says Roberts.

For Roberts and Granderson, one of the biggest wins to come from forming the group was the ability to get to know their neighbors and develop a sense of community.

“We get together for happy hours, we discuss issues, and we are starting to merge with some other groups that have similar interests throughout DFW, and we go to their events,” says Roberts. “There are a lot of people in Dallas that care about Christian conservative values. We’re not extreme by any measure. We’re just good people that care about our community. We care about our children and those around us, and [we] believe that we have a common value system to adhere to. So it’s that simple,” explains Roberts.

While most conversations may center around school policies, elections, and voting, the social aspect is perhaps the most valuable asset.

“If I need somebody to walk my dog,” says Roberts. “I’ve got 10 people to call where before I didn’t have anybody to call.”

Roberts says he has learned a lot by coming together with others in the Kessler Park neighborhood. He has even held conversations with people whose values differed and found common ground.

“We are nowhere near as divided as a country as the media has led us to believe. People do care about their kids, safety, and their neighbors. We realize that the gloves should just come off; everybody has signed up for a common theme.”

While Roberts describes the group as more of a “social” one, they have organized to help political candidate Lauren Davis.

“We hosted a meet-and-greet for Dallas County Judge candidate Lauren Davis in February at my house. Over 70 people came, and it was one of the largest meet-and-greets she had during the primary,” Kessler Conservative member Heidi Maher told The Dallas Express.

Davis’ campaign against incumbent Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins helped move the Kessler Conservatives from being a social group to one of advocacy.

“We really got behind Lauren because we liked her. We liked her story, and we think she’s the right person,” says Roberts.

The Kessler Conservatives group has remained private for the most part, as some members still do not feel comfortable being identified, but it is not stopping them from taking action.

As the founder of the organization, Roberts says that if you do not give people something to do, it could all fall apart due to busy schedules, so they try to meet monthly to plan and organize.

Roberts does distinguish that the Christian conservative values he holds are very different from extremist behavior with which he feels Christian conservatives have been falsely associated.

“When I grew up, I was trained if somebody says something extreme, look the other way and let them go and don’t make a big deal about it. And part of me says we’re responsible for allowing extremist behavior because we haven’t stood up when somebody comes down and spews nonsense. Instead of looking the other way, I think it’s okay to take issue with that — politely — but take issue with it,” explains Roberts.

While Roberts does not call the Kessler Conservatives group “well-organized,” he hopes it will become more structured as November draws near. Members’ focus will be working with Laura Davis’ campaign, actively interacting with other conservative groups, getting people out to vote, and helping to make sure elections are fair.

No matter where your values lie, Roberts believes change comes from having personal conversations.

“It starts by reaching out to your neighbor and starting in your backyard. We can’t do anything nationally; we can’t do anything at the state level,” says Roberts. “We can only start in our neighborhoods.”

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