In a bit of a surprise Kingston attorney Bill Urbanski was elected as Luzerne County Republican chairman defeating incumbent Terry Casey 79-72 at the party convention Sunday at Genetti's.
Casey was elected in 2008 succeeding Lynette Vilano. and it's fair to say that his record has been more hits than misses. In 2007 the Luzerne County Republicans lost EVERY contested county election. Their only winner that year was Steve Urban because one Republican had to be on the board of commissioners. His first move was hiring Renita Fennick as executive director who was able to deal with the various factions and got people to work together. A year round headquarters was opened in downtown Wilkes-Barre with space donated by a real estate outfit and he got the back mountain money boys to kick in some bucks to pay for it all.
It paid off in the 2009 county elections when the Republicans won 2 out 3 of the Row Offices up that year. In 2010 the focus was getting Lou Barletta elected to Congress that was helped by the national wave.
Elections for the county council under the new Home Rule form of government was on the ballot in 2011 and the Republicans snagged 4 of the 11 seats and Stefanie Salavatis knocked off DA JAckie Mo. Not bad for a party that has been on the outside for a long time with a significant deficit in registrations.
But some Republicans said they should have done better after all the corruption that has seen a slew of Democrats go to jail. Some have complained that the county party didn't help out municipal candidates enough particularly in Wilkes-Barre but that is not the focus of the county party.
The county Republicans haven't been able to fill all of the committee spots and got a big black eye when a race hater wrote himself in for one of them.One of my Republican friends said it was not a priority to recruit county committee members but 6th District honcho James O'Meara said he tried his best to get people to sign up without much success.
Bill Urbanski sounds like a Republican populist if there is such a thing CV: "My vision is simple: do away with unnecessary expenditures and
bureaucracies and build a more inclusive county Republican Party,"
Urbanski said. "Too often committee members and even average voters feel
as though they are on the outside looking in, or what may be worse, on
the bottom looking up. In my mind, the contributions made by the
rank-and-file members of the GOP are just as important as the
contributions made by those in positions of power."
It looks like Kingston Mayor Jim Haggerty is the next coming of Marty Murray on the Republican side. He wrote the Home Rule Charter and now this. "Winning the Republican county election is proof of your grassroots ability," Haggerty said.
Bill's brother posted this picture :
Update: James O'Meara corrects me in the comments..
Actually, Gort, this year we were successful in the 6th getting new
committee members. We have filled 8 of 10 slots in Plains, for example,
and I will find people for the other two slots. It was similar
throughout the rest of the 6th District. Recruiting those slots is a
primary duty of a District Chair, so the empty slots ...and the
responsibility to fill them ...are my responsibility.
12 hours ago