It wasn't a big secret that the Intergovernmental Committee of the Lehigh County Commissioners would be meeting Tuesday night to interview the three candidates to replace Glenn Eckhart. The Voters promoted Eckhart in November and he took office as County Controller a few weeks ago, after defeating incumbent Tom Slonaker for the job.
But for some reason, other than 6 of the 8 current commissioners, three county employees, and the three applicants, the only two people in attendance to witness the proceedings were me and Express Times reporter Colin McEvoy. Read his account HERE
The Intergovernmental Committee consist of Republicans Scott Ott (Chairman), Tom Creighton, Vic Mazziotti, and Democrat Dan McCarthy, but Republicans Brad Osborne and Percy Daugherty were present as well. Norma Cusick was the first applicant to be interviewed, and she passed out her resume.
Mrs Cusick rambled on in her introduction about her Republican street cred as a fiscal conservative and her roles in the community, serving on the Lehigh County Authority, the Allentown Public Library board, and as a Township Supervisor in Salisbury. I was quickly put off by her trumpeting of her never voting to raise taxes. I was amused later when during questioning by none other than reform team member Scott Ott she admitted that she had voted for tax hikes as a Salisbury School district board member, but only because of those pesky unfunded mandates.
There was no question that Mrs Cusick had the requisite time put in doing public service to apply for the job, but it was painfully obvious, at least to me that she wasn't the best candidate.
Next up was Dan Paschke, a Coopersburg resident and a legislative aide to State Representative Justin Simmons. I would like to think that Dan had good intentions in applying but his answers to the Commissioners questions exposed his naivete and made him look like a political opportunist.
Paschke had no opinion on a bi-county health commission, and was cautious answering questions about whether he was worried about voting on issues while serving as a legislative aide. It should be noted that former Commissioner Democrat Kurt Derr worked for State Senator Lisa Boscola in recent years without problems. Neither Paschke or Cusick seemed to have a grasp about what being a commissioner entailed, both spoke that they would work to curtail any services duplicated at the County level to cut spending. The two conveniently ignore the fact that the Commissioners and current executive Don Cunningham have been doing just that for the past 6 years, but hey, it sounds good.
Last up was Allentown resident and CPA Mike Schware. For his introductory statement, Mike simply read about his life history, growing up in Allentown, his resume, and living with his wife and two daughters on 16th street. He didn't spout any political slogans or agenda, but did accentuate his experience as an accountant and a person willing to work with others of different and varying opinions. I'm not saying that Paschke or Cusick could nor or would not be willing to work well with the other Commissioners, I am just pointing out that Schware focused on serving the electorate over using political catch phrases to try and get appointed to a job.
I was glad to see Mike get recommended to the full board for appointment. The Three Republicans voted for him, but Dan McCarthy did point out that Norma Cusick's long history of public service made her his preference. Even though they were present for the interviews, Commissioners Osbourne and Daugherty did not vote, but they did ask questions of each applicant.
The most bizarre and off topic question was asked by Commissioner Tom Creighton, who asked each applicant where they thought the U.S. Dollar would be in the near future. It was either a genius question to see if they had a grasp of how the strength of the dollar effects municipal bond and or credit ratings or an example of how clueless an officeholder can be. You decide.
Dan McCarthy asked if each applicant had plans to run for a full term in two years and each was up front that it was likely but predicated on how well they felt they could do the job after two years.
On their views of the Bi County health bureau, Cusick was for it, Pasche admitted he needed more information before taking a position, and Schware had reservations about how it would be funded, but I got the impression that while he was against it, he would be open to compromise if it could be funded without drastic cost to the taxpayers.
That's all for now, I will have something else in a couple of days.