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Lerew leads transition for Hempstead County GOP

By Rick Kennedy, managing editor
The Hempstead County Republican Committee, long known as being one of the most active and most organized in Arkansas, is seeing changes this month, one temporary and one longer lasting.
For April, the local GOP county committee is moving its monthly meeting to Thursday, April 11, one week earlier than normal, at Amigo Juan’s.
For the next couple of years, the group’s leader will be Troy Lerew, a well-known and well-regarded local political figure over the years as former Mayor of Oakhaven and currently as District 6 Justice of the Peace.
Lerew has served as the treasurer of the Hempstead County GOP and was named as Hempstead County GOP state committee man last June. Now, he steps into a bigger role, taking over for longtime chair Sara Darling.
“I agreed to do it, if Sara agreed to be my lifetime mentor,” Lerew said Thursday confirming his appointment, “With it being a non-election year now, I have a good opportunity to learn the job and get ready for 2020.”
Lerew said 2020 will get off to a fast start for him with the GOP primary set for March during the Presidential election year.
“I’ve got a little time, but it will be here before you know it,” he said.
Departing her leadership role after six years, Darling said Thursday, “I’ve enjoyed it, but it is time for a break. I will still be around; I’m not going anywhere.”
Darling oversaw the county organization during local successes such as the 2016 and 2018 election cycles, which saw local Republican candidates assume a number of local seats, including state representative, county judge, county clerk, and the quorum court.
Both Lerew and Darling confirmed the GOP meeting moving from its usual week to April 11, which is next Thursday.  Thursday, April 18 is a benefit for former Hempstead County Judge Haskell Morse, who has been hospitalized for several weeks. Morse has also been a prominent local member of the Hempstead County Republican Party.
Lerew said the Hempstead GOP Committee is working together with employees and officials from the Hempstead County Courthouse, many of whom worked with Morse over the past few years.
Lerew said future Hempstead County GOP committee meetings would stay at their normal time on the third Thursdays of the month.
“This change is for this month only to help with the benefit; it will stay at its normal time,” Lerew said.
Lerew, age 67, was a driver for Hudson Foods, and later, Tyson, until he officially retired in 2014. In addition, Lerew has been a volunteer at Hempstead Hall, working at many of the events, concerts and shows over the years.
In other Hempstead GOP news, Debbie Marsh was named to return as secretary, while Drury Hoover was returned as First Vice Chair. Lerew’s spouse, Mary Ann Lerew named as the new Treasurer, while Karen Smith was named as the group’s new Second Vice Chair. Smith is the current Hempstead County Clerk.

Karen Smith was recently named as Second Vice Chair of the Hempstead County GOP. Smith is presently the Hempstead County Clerk. (Rick Kennedy photo)
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