When it came time to select a new leader of its organization, the Democratic Party of Carbon County selected a 26-year-old to be its chairman.
William O'Gurek Jr. of Summit Hill became the youngest person to head the countywide organization on Saturday, gaining unanimous support of the 66 committee men and women who attended the party's reorganizational meeting held at The Inn of Jim Thorpe. He succeeds Frank Jacobs of Nesquehoning, who directed the party's activities for the past 12 years.
Judy Moon of Nesquehoning, the county's Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphans' Court, was elected vice chairwoman, succeesding Rose Walck, also of Nesquehoning. William O'Gurek Sr., also of Summit Hill and chairman of the county's board of commissioners, was re-elected treasurer a position he had held for the past 11 years. Linda Rex of Mahoning Township, the party's longtime secretary, was reappointed to that position by the new chairman.
For O'Gurek Jr., the opportunity to lead the Democrats is something he called "a little surreal." He said, "It (the chairmanship) is something I strived for, but to achieve it as a 26-year-old, it's humbling."
A graduate of King's College, Wilkes-Barre, with a degree in political science, he has a background in the political field, having initially did an internship in the Wilkes-Barre office of Congressman Paul Kanjorski. Outside the academia field, as a college student, he volunteered in Luzerne County on the campaigns of Rep. Kanjorski, Gov. Ed Rendell and Sen. Robert Casey, while locally, he has been involved in countywide elections for the Democrats.
O'Gurek Jr. pointed to the "strong ticket" county Democrats will be promoting in the first General Election under his help, mentioning Justin Yaich (the party's state representative nominee), Kanjorski and Dan Onorato, Joe Sestak and John Yudichak, who are running for congress, governor, U.S. senator and Pa. Senator, respectively. "We are in a good position to succeed," he said.
The new chairman praised the work of his predecessor (Jacobs), saying, "He has done an outstanding job on behalf of the Democratic slate and its candidates, so it will be difficult to succeed him."
The new chairman pointed out that despite the recent Primary Election in which there were contested races for every position on the ballot, the party "will be unified" in the Fall. Citing the state senate race between Yudichak and Tom Leighton, Wilkes-Barre mayor, he borrowed a quote from Yudichak after his victory, in which he said, "He was my opponent, not my enemy."
O'Gurek Jr. said, "Coming off a primary that saw friends against friends, it's something we can look at. We will be successful in November if we come together, if we work as one."
The new chairman is the elected committeeman in Summit Hill's Third Ward. He will represent Carbon County on the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee.
Moon, meanwhile, a 23-year member of the party's executive committee, said she will help provide leadership in the party. "I appreciate the confidence the committee men and women have shown in our new officers. We will work together to bring the whole party together," she said.