For the first time in nearly two decades, Upper Dublin's Ward 5 now has a new commissioner sitting on the board.

By a unanimous vote at its Jan. 11 meeting, the board of commissioners appointed Democrat Rebecca Gushue to be the new Ward 5 commissioner, replacing outgoing Commissioner Jules Mermelstein.

Gushue and her husband, Robert, have been township residents since 2000, living in their current Dresher home for seven years.

While she grew up in the Philadelphia area, Gushue's husband grew up in nearby Oreland, and they both knew they wanted to find a home in Upper Dublin once they got married, she said.

Gushue currently works in the human resources field. She graduated from St. Joseph's University with a degree in business management theory before earning her master’s in human resources from Temple University.

Since 2006, she has been the human resources director for ATD-American Co., which specializes in selling business furniture.

Gushue said her background in human resources will be an asset to her service on the board of commissioners, noting she's been in the position to make tough decisions that have looked out for a company's best interests.

"I'm not always going to make people happy, but I'm always going to try, when I'm on the board, to meet people's needs," she said. "Sometimes hard decisions need to be made, but … you need to make them in the best interest of the township."

In addition to her full-time job, she is an adjunct instructor at both Philadelphia and Temple universities, teaching courses on human resources, and she sits on Temple's curriculum development round table.

Gushue and her predecessor also share a passion for debate, another factor she believes will serve her well as commissioner.

While Mermelstein is the coach of the Upper Dublin High School debate team, Gushue coaches the Jenkintown High School team.

"Debate was a love from high school," she said. "I can analyze a situation, and I can see both sides of an argument. I'm not looking to take a position; I'm looking to find a solution."

On top of all she already does, Gushue can now add the title of commissioner.

"It's very exciting," she said. "It's definitely a new experience for me. I'm looking forward to meeting a lot of new people."

And Gushue said she knows she has big shoes to fill.

"Jules has done a fantastic job in his tenure on the board of commissioners," she said. "I want to make sure we continue to follow through on those initiatives he started."

Gushue said she has been working with Mermelstein to get up to speed on all the issues facing Ward 5 and the township as a whole.

"The transition is going to go smoothly," she said.

The new commissioner said she's looking forward to bringing her own approach to the board and making sure residents' concerns are heard.

"I'm going to see things from a slightly different perspective — a constituent-centered perspective while keeping the business of the township in mind," she said. "My goal is to serve the people in the neighborhoods I represent, assist in any way possible. If they have issues, please come to me. If there's something that can be fixed, I'd like to see it fixed."

Gushue said some of her top priorities will be to follow through on the recently completed comprehensive plan and continue searching for flood-control solutions for the Fort Washington Office Park.

"We're being very proactive with water management and obtaining grants, and I'd like to continue that," she said.

Above all, Gushue said she hopes to help continue the high standard of living in Upper Dublin Township for all residents.

"I'm a proud resident," she said. "I want every resident to be a proud Upper Dublin resident as well."

Thomas Celona can be reached at tcelona@montgomerynews.com, or you may comment on this story below.

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