GOP elects new chairman, slate

November 23, 2012

The Washington County Republican Committee will have a new leadership team beginning Jan. 1 with William Merrell of Peters Township at the helm.

Merrell, 62, a member of both the state Republican GOP Committee and Peters Township School Board, will succeed Tom Uram.

Rounding out the slate unanimously chosen this week in Washington for two-year terms are Jeff Foutz, first vice chairman; Bill (Doc) Adams, second vice chairman; Ruthann Ruecroft, secretary; and Jeff Fine, treasurer.

Uram was named over the summer to the U.S . Treasury Department’s Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee.

“The Uram family has been the centerpiece of politics in Washington County for decades,” Merrell said Friday. “I’ve got some really big shoes to fill with Tom Uram stepping aside from that position, and all I can try to do is to fill them.”

Merrell described his past year as “a whirlwind, that’s for sure,” having gone from Peters Township Council to the school board, being elected to the GOP post and, also this week, starting a new job as an eighth-grade civics and government teacher in Chartiers Valley School District.

His quest for the teaching job goes back to the 1990s, when Merrell, a veteran, sought similar positions. After the district declined to hire him, he filed suit, saying the board violated the Veterans Preference Act.

He said the case stemmed from “decisions that were made 16 years ago, and the people now are fixing things.”

Merrell called the GOP chairmanship during a time when its ranks are growing in Peters, North Strabane, Nottingham and Cecil townships “an exciting time for Washington County. The county has turned to the Republican Party in the past two presidential elections. I lived in Peters Township in the ’60s when it wasn’t that way.

“I want to make sure we get the correct message out to everyone so they can make an informed decision. We’re not anti-women. My wife (Monica) is a councilwoman here in the township.”

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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