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January 10, 2019
Vista Today
Chester County Leadership: Rick Loughery, Recorder of Deeds, Republican Committee of Chester County Chair

Chester County Leadership: Rick Loughery, Recorder of Deeds, Republican Committee of Chester County Chair

Rick Loughery with his horse Laila.

On Monday evening, Rich Loughery was unanimously elected to succeed Val DiGiorgio as Chairman of the Republican Committee of Chester County. Several weeks ago, Rick, who is in his final year as Chester County’s Recorder of Deeds, spoke with VISTA Today about growing up in Phoenixville, witnessing and contributing to the borough’s renaissance, and developing an interest for acting and theatre.

He also discussed the important lessons he learned from working a variety of jobs as a youngster, attending West Chester University, his work for the Republican Committee of Chester County, and his favorite accomplishments in his current position of Recorder of Deeds.

Rick in 1st grade at Holy Family School in Phoenixville.

Where were you born and where did you grow up, Rick?

I was born the oldest of three children and the only boy in 1984 in Phoenixville. My family lived in Phoenixville until I was in 5th grade and then we moved to Schuylkill Township, not too far outside the borough.

What did your parents do?

My mom has been a stay-at-home mom for most of my life. My dad is an executive at a pharmaceutical company.

What do you remember about growing up there?

I went to Holy Family School on 3rd Avenue in Phoenixville. In the early 90s, we weren’t allowed to go downtown by yourself. It was desolate and a lousy place for a kid to go at the time.

Phoenixville’s boom happened around 2006-2007. I am very fortunate to be able to say that I was there to witness and even played a small part in helping turn Phoenixville around.

When did you realize Phoenixville was turning around?

I graduated from West Chester University in 2006 and moved back to Phoenixville. When my friends and I started going downtown to the bars and restaurants – there were about two at the time – it was just beginning to pick up.

There was an influx of people, which was so different from when I was little. All of a sudden, people were going downtown, and restaurants and shops began opening. You could see the resurgence happening little by little. It was a gradual process.

Did you play any sports growing up?

I played a lot of sports in grade school – football, baseball, basketball. I began acting in high school and won a few awards for that. I went to West Chester University on a Theatre Scholarship.

I was good at football, but I ended my football career in high school to focus on acting.

What got you into acting?

A few of my friends and I decided to audition for a play my sophomore year of high school. It turns out I had a knack for it. I was able to understand the text and conceptualize it for the audience.

What skills did you take away from your acting experience that you use today?

I learned how to relate to and connect with an audience. I also learned how to channel emotions in a constructive way, leading the audience where I want their thoughts to go.

In high school, I wanted to become the next Elvis Presley and star in Hollywood movies. When I got to college, however, it was not a career that I seriously wanted to pursue. I realized it was just a hobby at that point. I decided to make a transition into politics.

I still enjoy seeing shows. I am happy the Uptown! Theatre came to West Chester.

What was your first job?

My first job was in grade school manning the phones at the rectory of St. Ann’s Parish in Phoenixville. I continued that into high school. Through high school, I bagged groceries at Acme, and I mowed lawns on the weekends. I made pizza at a local pizzeria. I was always working. My parents instilled a strong work ethic in me early on in life.

My dad did not have a college degree. He went right out of high school to his current company. He started at the bottom of his current company and worked his way to the top. He went to night school and years later earned his bachelor’s degree. He set an excellent example for my sisters and I by always working hard.

My father wanted my mom to stay home and take care of us so that we’d always have that influence in our daily lives. She was always there to make sure we did our homework, take care of us when we were sick and pick us up from practice.

Rick with his parents at his high school graduation in 2002.

What lessons did you take from those jobs that stick with you today?

Sometimes you have a good boss, and sometimes you don’t. You have to work some undesirable jobs to understand what it means to start at the bottom and work your way up. I always wanted to remember where I came from and have that appreciation.

What kind of music were you listening to in high school and college?

I have a very eclectic music taste, which I get from my parents, especially my mom. I have always loved going to live concerts. My first concert was Aerosmith with my mom when I was fifteen.

I’ve seen Imagine Dragons, Eminem, Kenny Chesney, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Jay-Z, One Republic, Fleetwood Mac, Beyoncé, Mumford & Sons just to name a few. I love some oldies too, especially Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.

Did you have a favorite concert experience?

My most recent concert was Mumford & Sons, who I have seen three times now and is one of the best live bands.  Jay-Z & Justin Timberlake put on an incredible joint stadium tour a few years ago.  I’d also add Fleetwood Mac and my boyhood crush, Britney Spears, to that list.

You went to West Chester on a theater scholarship, did you look at other schools?

I did. Like many other kids who grew up here in Chester County, I initially discarded the idea of going to West Chester University as an option because I thought the school was too close to home.

I was looking at schools in New York because of my interest in acting. My parents and I visited NYU and Wagner, as well as a few other schools up there. I graduated high school in 2002, and my mom was a little hesitant about sending me to New York after the events of September 11th the year before. I looked at Shippensburg and Penn State as well.

I did not originally visit West Chester, but I applied to the University because of their theater scholarship. When I got the scholarship, I took a tour of the school and fell in love with the campus.

What drew you to West Chester?

The campus’ Ivy League feel and the small town atmosphere felt like what a college campus should be. I loved the fact that I was close enough to home, as well as the city of Philadelphia.

Looking back, was WCU the right choice for you?

Absolutely! I’ve gone there three times now! I received my undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degrees from the University.

Looking back over your career, who give you your big breaks?

I worked for the Republican Committee of Chester County in 2007 when Terence Farrell was elected Commissioner for the first time. I worked very closely with Terence and Carol Aichele, who was another Commissioner at the time, to make sure they were elected.

We had a tough Republican primary that year, and a difficult general election, due to the unpopularity of President Bush and the Iraq War. The Party brand was not great. We had to really push our candidates at the local level. After we won the race, Commissioner Farrell asked me to come run his office at the county. I worked for him for four years during his first term.

Commissioner Farrell encouraged me to run for Recorder of Deeds in 2011.

Speaking at WCU’s 2015 graduation ceremony.

What did Terence Farrell see in you?

I think he saw my ability to take a goal and bring it to fruition. Because we were on a campaign, he saw something in me who could take his ideas and put them into action. Later, he saw my commitment to understanding how county government operates and how to get the ball rolling on a critical project.

Terence is the reason I went for my master’s and doctoral degrees because as part of the requirement of working for him, he insisted that I continue my education. Terence encouraged every member of his staff to continue their education, and the other two individuals that succeeded me in his office went back to school as well.

I went back to West Chester for my masters under State Representative Duane Milne, who was at the time was running the public administration program. After finishing my Masters, I joined the advisory board that was developing West Chester’s Doctoral program. When the Doctoral program began in 2015, I enrolled as a candidate, and I was in the program’s first graduating class in 2017.

Who else helped you along the way?

My parents created an incredible support structure for me. They helped me endure struggles personally and professionally. I’m fortunate to have that. My parents told me that they would pay for my undergraduate degree and anything after that was on me. Graduating from college with no debt is almost unheard of today, so that was a really big deal for me and I very much appreciate the sacrifice they made.

I attended the master’s program from 2008-2010, during the Great Recession, so it was a perfect time to graduate as everyone was looking for a leg-up professionally.

My dad’s philosophy was that he wanted his children to be better off than he was, and in a lot of ways, he has succeeded. I’m an elected official with my doctorate. My sister, who just turned thirty, is a very successful dentist and just had her first child.  My youngest sister who is twenty-three years-old is a world-traveler. She’s interning for a marketing firm in Philadelphia, and she’s currently in Australia.

What is your favorite accomplishment as Recorder of Deeds?

Rick joins the Recorder of Deeds staff in an ALS ice bucket challenge in 2014.

After two terms as the county’s Recorder of Deeds, I’m most proud of my outreach efforts to our veterans community.  The Recorder of Deeds is legally mandated to record the military discharge for veterans residing in Chester County.  After I was sworn into my first term in 2012, I realized that we had a lot of veterans coming into the office to record their discharge papers.  So, I decided to open a program to honor their service.  Each time a veteran records their discharge with my office, we provide them with a photo ID honoring their service to our country and connecting them with discounts to businesses located across the county.  It’s a small way to say thank you, but it has been the most rewarding part of serving in elected office.  My staff and I travel across the county attending events to meet more veterans, hear their stories and recognize their service.

On top of that, I’m proud that my office has saved more than $21 million dollars during my tenure and that the office is self-sufficient; we operate based on fees, not tax dollars, enabling us to send funds back to the County Commissioners so they can fund other initiatives like veterans programs and emergency services.  I have an incredible staff that works very hard and keep my office running efficiently.  I do not plan to run for a third term, so looking back on the past eight years is bittersweet.

Looking forward to the new year, what are your opportunities and challenges?

I walked into the Chester County Republican Party headquarters 17 years ago as a college freshman, and I fell in love with our county party. People like Terence Farrell and the things they’ve done for this county. I want to continue that work. To me, it’s important to show our local voters what the local Republican party stands for. Understanding what our candidates have done and will do for this county is very important.

I think the tribalization and vitriol of politics is detrimental to us in Chester County. What happens in DC, doesn’t always directly impact what’s going on locally; but our courthouse, local municipal governments, and school districts do have a substantial everyday impact on our lives. These are the conversations we need to be having. It should always be about what’s going on in the borough hall, the school district, or the township building.  Read more 

January 4, 2019
Philly.com
COMMENTARY
Republican Party needs a new contract with America | Opinion

Republican Party needs a new contract with America | Opinion

Since the 2018 election, a lot of folks have asked me what Republicans must do to win in the future, especially in suburban Pennsylvania.

As I’ve been charting our course for what’s ahead and how we get there, I was touched recently to receive a wonderful gift: an 1888 John D. Long version of “The Republican Party: Its History, Principles, and Policy.”

On the cover of this beautiful, old, leather-bound book is Abraham Lincoln — the first Republican president — with his hand out to a recently freed slave, looking to the future while keeping one hand clenching what must be our founding document.

That image, and what is contained in that book, is a good reminder of what the Republican Party was and what it must be today: a party dedicated to holding true to our founding documents — particularly the Declaration of Independence, which declared ALL men are created equal and promised inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

To become a true majority party, we must hold fast to our founding principles and we must demonstrate to the nation that we care not just about deficits, building a wall, and rule of law — all of which are important — but that we have ideas worthy of the mantle of leadership.

And we must have an agenda for all Americans.

It’s time for the Republican Party to deliver a message with our own brand of effective compassion. In our cities, many families are mired in a cycle of multigenerational poverty, reliant on Democrat-promised government assistance. Their many programs have fueled what George W. Bush called the “soft bigotry of low expectations.”

Where is our party’s march seeking justice and advancement for these families?

In what I think is the social-injustice issue of our time, two-thirds or more of Philadelphia children can’t read or write at grade level and one-third will not graduate, and the education establishment in Pennsylvania, as it does across the county, seeks to deny parents the right to educational choice in schools.

Where is our public relations push to show who is actually leaving these students behind?

We need a new contract with America – a new promise. We must be the party that supports effective programs dedicated to urban America, job training, educational choice and opportunity, and policies that support the dignity of work.

We cannot be the party that merely points out the problem. We must be the party offers real solutions and real plans for those in need while holding true to the rule of law and our conservative values.

In the White House, President Donald Trump has thankfully given us a lot to work with as we seek to broaden our message. The successes of his administration and Republican leadership have done more than just provide tax reform, but have taken real steps to make government work for those long left behind by the political establishment.

By prioritizing things like school choice that helps students find an education environment that works for them, Economic Opportunity Zones that seek to provide long-term investment in low-income communities, overdue criminal justice reform that takes a holistic approach to rehabilitation, and paid family leave that facilitates more opportunity for working families, the president is doing a lot for those living in our urban and suburban communities.

It’s up to us to help tell that story.

As the Republican Party of Pennsylvania moves forward we have plans to build strong coalitions by reaching out to all communities of interest who can help us get our message out, become faithful representatives of the party, and shape our vision. We plan to ask them to run for office and join our committee.

Additionally, it is my personal mission as chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania to use this time, especially in the near future, to continue to make this party as strong and united as we can be. We’ve seen firsthand at the local, state, and national level, what division within our party does.

We must not lose our way — and our party — by allowing internecine personal politics to triumph.

If we achieve that unity, the Republican Party in Pennsylvania and across the country can — and will — become a true governing, majority party.

With that mission, we can truly be one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Val DiGiorgio is the Chairman of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania.   Source & Comments

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