Lehigh County One job, four candidates Committee passes buck to commissioners full board
After interviewing all four candidates vying to serve out the remainder of County Executive Don Cunningham's term, the intergovernmental and appointments committee (IGAC) decided to not recommend a single name at its Aug. 1 meeting in Allentown.
Instead, a motion was passed by the committee to send all four names to the board of commissioners, to be voted on at its Aug 8. meeting.
Commissioner Vic Mazziotti, who serves on the IGAC, said he was impressed by the interviews of all four candidates and said he did not feel ready to make a decision.
"This is a more difficult decision than I anticipated," Mazziotti said. "I thought I would be more comfortable voting for a particular candidate tonight and I'm not feeling that comfortable at the moment."
The IGAC was made up of chairman Scott Ott, Thomas Creighton III and Mazziotti. Daniel McCarthy usually serves as the vice chairman of the committee but did not participate because he is running for the county executive position. The committee was joined by the rest of board of commissioners (except for Commissioner Michael Schware, who was on vacation but was watching the streaming video of the meeting) who could not vote, but could ask questions to the candidates and make suggestions to the committee members.
The four candidates, McCarthy, Matthew Croslis, William Hansell and John Ingram were interviewed in alphabetical order. The interviews were 20 minutes long and started with a series of fixed questions by the IGAC. The questions included asking candidates why they decided to run, what they believe the primary job of the county executive is and how they plan to work on the budget. After the IGAC's questions were completed, the committee members and the other members of the board of commissioners had a chance to ask follow up questions.
After all four candidates were interviewed, the committee and the other board of commissioners discussed who they thought should be nominated.
"I wish I could grab the best parts of each candidate and make a new person," Commissioner Thomas Creighton joked.
"Legal has already informed us we're not allowed to do that," Commissioner Ott joked back.
Creighton initially only motioned that Hansell and McCarthy be considered after Commissioner David Jones said the committee should consider someone with experience.
"I think there's a value for experience in that we're asking someone to come in to what is realistically a very large organization, a very complex organization, and a great deal of boundaries and accountabilities to many, many entities outside of itself and the ability for someone to come in and not have to be brought up to speed bodes well for the functionality of the administration," Jones said.
Commissioner Lisa Scheller added that Croslis should be considered as well.
"[Croslis] has experience in business, he expressed a willingness to work with us in terms of budgeting and prioritization, he would bring a fresh set of eyes to the county and he had some concrete ideas of areas that we could cut spending," Scheller said.
Commissioner Percy Dougherty suggested that all four candidates be considered.
"We'll have more time to consider them, to get more information from other people who know them well, and we can make a better decision," Dougherty said.
Creighton and Mazziotti said they were comfortable with the idea of sending all four names to the board of commissioners and a motion proposed shortly after was passed unanimously by the IGAC.
"At the next board meeting, the board will take a vote to accept our recommendation and then we will go and literally take a roll call vote starting with Commissioner Creighton and he'll say which candidate he wants and we'll walk all the way through that," Ott said. "If any candidate gets five votes on the first round, then that person would be appointed [county executive]. In the unlikely chance that that happens, we'll probably have to go through a series of votes."
The board has until Aug. 23 to make a selection.