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Nothing will change, Courtland supervisor says of dual role as local GOP chair

Spotsylvania County Supervisor David Ross was elected in 2011 on a platform that he said is “fully in line with the Republican creed.”

So, he says, nothing will change now that he is chairman of the Spotsylvania Republican Committee.

Ross became leader of the local GOP on March 15, a few months after he was named chairman of the Board of Supervisors.

He said in an email that he would continue “putting citizens’ concerns first” as the Courtland District supervisor.

It’s nothing new for an elected official to head a political party organization.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine became chairman of the Democratic National Committee while he was governor, a decision that drew criticism from Republicans. And Jim Gilmore was tapped to lead the Republican National Committee in 2001 while he was governor of Virginia.

Locally, Caroline County Board of Supervisors Vice Chairman Jeff Sili is the chair of the Caroline Republican Committee.

“It’s pretty clear that partisan politics is found in every aspect of national, state and local politics these days,” said Stephen Farnsworth, director of the University of Mary Washington’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies.

Doug Ferguson, chairman of the Spotsylvania Democratic Committee, said Ross’s dual roles may give him “undue influence” over the GOP group. “I think if a chair wants to pull them in one direction, and he has an elected office, the odds are they will go in that direction,” said Ferguson, who referred to Ross as “ultra conservative.”

Ross appears to have come a long way in Republican circles since he ran for the supervisors seat in 2011.

His opponent at that time was incumbent Jerry Logan, who was the Spotsylvania Republican Committee’s official nominee. But Ross noted that he did not consider running until long after that nomination was given.

This year, he said, many Republican committee members asked him to seek the top spot in the local GOP. He said he wants to double the group’s membership and “educate our community on the advantages of limited government, low taxes and less regulation—leading to greater individual liberty.”

His predecessor on the county GOP, Scott Mellott, was also involved in local government. Mellott served on the Planning Commission—whose membership is chosen by supervisors—from January 2012 until he resigned earlier this month.

Steve Thomas, who was the Spotsylvania Republican Committee’s chairman in 2011, said he thinks Ross is a good fit for the job, which he described as difficult and time consuming.

“The advantage Dave is going to have is he ran very much as a grassroots candidate, so he understands listening to people, and he understands trying to keep it as close to the ground as humanly possible,” Thomas said.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402

jbranscome@freelancestar.com

 

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