By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Troy Jerrills, who steered the Madison County Republican Party through one of its most tumultuous periods in recent memory, has decided he will not seek a four-year term.
The 44-year-old Alexandria resident said he wants to focus on his family and work.
“It really came down to a matter of time,” said Jerrills, who has two teenage sons who are involved in school and extracurricular activities. “I just need to do what’s best for my family.”
Elected vice chair four years ago, Jerrills moved into the top spot after Darlene Likens was elected Madison County Clerk in 2010.
Privately, some Republicans say the past two years were characterized by factional infighting and discontent; a struggle between long-time party regulars and a new breed that included Tea Party activists and some Democrat crossovers.
Jerrills, however, says challenges within the party over the past two years are best viewed as a case of growing pains.
“I think there has always been a politeness in the Republican Party,” Jerrills said, but new people “wanted to take us in a more aggressive direction than in the past ... change is never easy.”
He said the hardest task for the party will be to stay energized and effective in its message, but added, “I think with all things considered, the party is in better shape than it was four years ago.”
The only person to publicly express interest in leading the party so far is Anderson City Councilman Russ Willis, R-District 1.
Willis said he hopes to heal wounds and create an atmosphere of reconciliation within the party, while promoting good candidates for political office.
A party caucus comprised of precinct committeemen and vice-committeemen will vote on a new chairman on March 2. Party members interested in the position have until 72 hours before the caucus to file the necessary paperwork to stand for election.
After a chair is named, additional party officer positions of vice-chair, secretary and treasurer will be selected.
County Democrats will also chose a new leader in early March.
After six years as Chairman, Ronald L. McNabney announced plans to step down early last month.
Two party activists — Bob Stinson and Ludy Watkins — have announced that they want to succeed him.
Find Stu Hirsch on Facebook and @StuHirsch on Twitter, or call 640-4861.