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Lehigh County Executive candidates will be interviewed in public

Published On: May 23 2013 06:48:15 AM CDT
Updated On: May 23 2013 06:48:23 AM CDT
Lehigh County commissioners

Lehigh County commissioners

Candidates hoping to serve as Lehigh County executive for the rest of this year will be interviewed in public on June 10 by county commissioners.

Anyone wishing to be appointed executive must submit an application by 4 p.m. Tuesday to Lisa Scheller, chairwoman of the nine commissioners.

The man or woman appointed county executive will serve until an elected executive takes office in early January.

In November, county voters will elect Republican Scott Ott or Democrat Thomas Muller as executive. Ott is vice chairman of the commissioners. Muller is the county's director of administration.

On Friday, Muller was named acting county executive by William Hansell, who resigned as executive that day because of failing health.

“Our thoughts, our hopes and our prayers go out to Bill Hansell and his family,” said Lisa Scheller, chairwoman of the commissioners, at their Wednesday night meeting. “He is facing serious health issues with the support of his family.”

The 76-year-old Hansell is undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

At the suggestion of Ott, everyone at the meeting observed a moment of silence so people could pray for Hansell and his wife Connie.

Commissioners have to fill the county executive vacancy with an appointee by July 2. Their intergovernmental & appointments committee must make a recommendation to the full board of commissioners by June 17.

“Certainly we can move faster because this is a very important position,” said Scheller. “It would be my personal recommendation that we do so.”

The appointee must be a Democrat, because Hansell is a Democrat. He or she also must be a resident of the county and registered to vote for at least one year.

The interviews are expected to begin at 6 p.m. June 10. Unless there is a scheduling conflict, they will take place in the commissioners’ meeting room on the first floor of the county government center, just off Center Square in Allentown.

Each candidate will be interviewed by the commissioners’ intergovernmental & appointments committee, chaired by Brad Osborne. Also on that committee are Ott, Daniel McCarthy and Vic Mazziotti.

Osborne explained members of the committee first will ask the candidates questions, then other commissioners attending that meeting also will be able to ask questions.

Immediately after the candidates are interviewed, the four members of the committee will vote to recommend one or more for final approval by the full board.

Osborne said the full board could appoint a new county executive just two nights later, at its June 12 meeting. If it takes no action that night, he anticipates it will act at its June 26 meeting.

The commissioners are not required to accept the recommendation of Osborne’s committee.

The commissioners just went through this process last summer, when they appointed Hansell to complete the term of Don Cunningham, who resigned as the elected executive.

Immediately after doing 20-minute interviews with four candidates for the $75,000-a-year position, the appointments committee recommended all four to the full board of commissioners.

A week later, on Aug. 8, commissioners selected Hansell in their first round of voting.