Plum Borough Republican Committee elects its new chairman
Brian Rasel's passion for politics developed at an early age.
“When I was 16, 17, 18, I was knocking on doors for (President) George Bush,” said Rasel who last week was elected chairman of the Plum Borough Republican Committee.
Rasel, 27, a Plum native, takes the reins from Dave Majernik, who led the committee for nearly 15 years. The term expires in June 2014.
Majernik, who also serves as vice chairman of the Allegheny County Republican Committee, said he decided to step down because he wants to pursue other activities and “other ways to serve.”
Rasel most recently was a consultant for the Pennsylvania House Republican Campaign Committee. Among the campaigns he worked on was Plum Council President Mike Doyle's race against State Rep. Joe Markosek for the 25th District Pennsylvania House of Representatives seat. Democrat Markosek, a 30-year incumbent, defeated Doyle.
The new GOP chairman also was Doyle's campaign manager in 2010 in Doyle's first run for the seat.
“Mike ran a very honest campaign,” Rasel said. “Everything we put out there could be verified. I will continue to be up front and honest (in campaigns).”
Rasel assumes the leadership duties for the Plum committee on the cusp of a busy local election year with races for mayor, tax collector, borough council and school board. The primary is May 21, and the general election is Nov. 5.
Republicans will be attempting to retain the majorities on borough council and school board.
Terms for tax Collector Harry Schlegel and borough council members Doyle, Michael Dell, Keith Nowalk and Leonard Szarmach, as well as school board members Sal Colella, Kevin Dowdell, Andrew Drake and Shane McMasters, all Republicans, expire at the end of the year. So does the term for Mayor Richard Hrivnak, a Democrat.
Rasel said he anticipates most of the incumbents will seek re-election. He is looking for a candidate to challenge Hrivnak for the mayor's seat.
“All (races) will have challengers,” Rasel said. “I want to get the right people elected.”
Rasel is pleased with the performance of the GOP council and school board members.
“They are doing the right things,” Rasel said.
The Republicans' message for voters in this year's election is the same as in previous years — fiscal responsibility.
“We are sticking with our roots,” Rasel said.
Plum Democratic Committee Chairwoman Valerie Yockey has known Rasel since he was a youngster.
“It (Rasel's election) is great for the Plum Republican Party,” Yockey said. “Brian is a young person with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.”
Majernik gives Rasel high marks.
“I think Brian is a very bright and energetic young man,” Majernik said. “He has political experience as campaign manager for Mike Doyle and worked for the House Republican Campaign Committee overseeing campaigns. I think he will do an outstanding job.”
“I have huge shoes to fill,” Rasel said of Majernik. “No one has worked harder or been more dedicated to the committee.”
Rasel vowed to do what is right in his work as committee chairman.
“I'm about two things — winning and principle,” Rasel said. “I won't do the first without the second.”
Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or firstname.lastname@example.org.