Divided Lehigh County Board of Commissioners selects new chairperson
By the slimmest of voting margins, the Lehigh County Commissioners have tapped a new chairperson to lead the board during 2013.
The Commissioners during their annual organizational meeting on Monday night voted 5-4 to appoint Republican Lisa Scheller as chairperson, ousting 2012 chairperson Brad Osborne, another Republican. The vote was made swiftly with no public discussion from commissioners on why the switch is being made for 2013.
Commissioners voting in favor of Scheller’s appointment were Thomas Creighton III, Vic Mazziotti, Scott Ott, Michael Schware and Scheller. Voting unsuccessfully to reappoint Osborne were Percy Dougherty, David Jones Sr., Daniel McCarthy and Osborne.
During the meeting, Scheller graciously accepted her new post and thanked Osborne for what she described as a solid year of service as chairperson. Scheller thanked her supporters and said she was looking forward to building upon Osborne’s work as chair.
In turn Osborne congratulated Scheller and thanked his colleagues for the opportunity to serve as chair during 2012.
Scheller, elected to the Board of Commissioners in November 2011 as an at-large representative under the “reform slate,” acknowledged in a brief interview following the meeting that Osborne’s support of a veto late last year by County Executive Bill Hansell to halt deeper spending and tax cuts played a role in the leadership change.
Five Republicans, including Scheller, supported the deeper budget cuts to the tune of $5 million, but they failed to garner the six-vote super-majority needed to override the veto by Hansell. At the time, Osborne said he supported Hansell’s amended budget that already included $3.5 million dollars in cuts, and was not prepared to make further cuts at that time.
As chairperson, Scheller said her legislative “focal point” during 2013 will be to better control spending and taxes.
Scheller, the chairperson of Tamaqua-based Silberline Manufacturing Co., Inc., has a Master of Science Degree in Manufacturing System Engineering from Lehigh University, according to a biography posted on the county website. She served on the Board of the Manufacturers Resource Center and the Board of Trustees of Cedar Crest College. Scheller is married to Wayne Woodman with six children.
Also during Monday night’s meeting, in another 5-4 vote, Republican Commissioner Scott Ott was reappointed vice chairman for 2013.
Ott, also elected to the Board of Commissioners in November 2011, serves as an at-large representative.
Ott has worked in communications for most of his career, and for five years was executive director of a Christian children's camp in Zionsville. He is a writer and host of current events and educational video programs on PJTV.com, states a biography posted on the county website. Ott has previously served in a variety of community organizations, including service as a volunteer and chairman of a nonprofit that helped female victims of rape and domestic violence. He was elected in 2010 to a four-year term as Republican State Committeeperson. Scott is married to Stephanie, a church children's minister, with four children.
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