Hansell tapped New county exec will seek better communications
William Hansell was appointed Lehigh County Executive in a unanimous decision by the Lehigh County Board of Commissioners at its Aug. 8 meeting in Allentown.
Hansell, of Lower Macungie Township, takes over for Don Cunningham, who left the position July 8 to become the president and chief executive officer of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. Hansell has worked in government for nearly 50 years, including a recent stint as a Lehigh County Commissioner from 2010 to 2011, when he finished the term of Bill Leiner Jr.
"He's very experienced, he's got a lot of management experience and he has a very particular knowledge of how government works. I think that was his biggest strong point," Commissioner Scott Ott said.
Commission Chairman Brad Osborne, like Ott, said that he voted for Hansell because of his experience in government, but also because of a performance management system he discussed during his interview with the intergovernmental affairs committee Aug. 1.
"Hansell described a performance management system that he will institute that is the crux of what's necessary to change and improve the structural imbalance in Lehigh County," Osborne said.
In his Aug. 1 interview, Hansell said that he hopes to implement his performance management system by the end of 2013, which would help set "benchmarks for continuous improvement" in the county.
"Everybody talks about doing better, but the only way you do that is by having a benchmark," Hansell said.
Hansell said that his main focus as county executive would in management, which he would devote 75 percent of the job to. He also said that 10 percent of his focus would be on policy development and policy execution, another 10 percent on representation and 5 percent or less on politics.
Also at his interview with the intergovernmental appointments committee, Hansell said that he hopes to have better communication between the executive and the commissioners.
"One of the shocks I had in 2010 when coming to the board was the limited communication between the executive and the board, either individually or collectively," Hansell said. "On a regular basis I would be communicating [with the commissioners] individually. I think more frequent and more open communication would be the most important feature of what I would try to bring to the job."
Although he is 75 years old, Hansell said his age and health are not a concern.
"I'll be very candid with you; I'm old," Hansell said. "I feel fine. I've never applied for a job or asked for anything where I said, 'I don't think I can fill this obligation.' When several people were kind enough on both sides of the political aisle asking me to run, I didn't think I could do four years. I didn't think it was appropriate, and I didn't think I could do it. With the background that I have, I think I can do 16 months. I wouldn't be here if I didn't."