Here’s who has applied so far to be Lancaster County’s next commissioner, with nominations ending next week | PA power and politics
A church pastor, lawyer and business leadership coach are among five local Democrats so far who have submitted nominations to fill the vacancy on the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners created by the resignation of Craig Lehman last week.
Candidates include Randy Gockley, a former top county emergency services official; Greg Paulson, lawyer and former candidate for judge of the Court of Common Pleas; Dominic Castaldi, former candidate clerk of acts; Ruthann Crawford-Fisher, Business Leadership and Wellness Consultant; and the Reverend Kirk Marks, pastor of Bethany Evangelical Congregational Church in Leesport and a resident of West Cocalico Township.
A panel of 13 county Court of Common Pleas judges is accepting nominations through next Friday, Jan. 21, to serve the remaining two years of Lehman’s term. A number of finalists will be invited to participate in a public interview process on Feb. 4, which will be streamed live on YouTube, presiding judge David Ashworth said. The judges will then select one of the finalists and proceed with the appointment.
The new member will be the minority Democratic member of the three-member council, joining Republicans Ray D’Agostino and Josh Parsons.
By state law, Lehman’s replacement must be a member of his political party, the Democrats. Although not required by law, the Lancaster panel of judges said they would require the runner-up to pledge not to run for the seat at the end of term in 2023, a step they have described as ensuring that no candidate is given an unfair advantage. Lehman’s replacement would be allowed to run in future commissioner races after the 2023 election, Ashworth said.
The app is available at https://lanc.news/LCDemApp.
At least two other Democrats have submitted letters to the court expressing interest in the nomination, Ashworth said. But they are required to complete the full application to be considered, he added.
“What I don’t want to happen is for someone to send a letter and express interest thinking they’re ready to go,” Ashworth said. “They have to do what everyone else does, complete the application correctly.”
Gockley, 66, from Ephrata Borough, was the first person to publicly express an interest in being nominated to fill the vacancy on the board. When he ran in December, Gockley said his 31 years of knowledge of how county government works and his reputation for leading the county in emergencies qualified him for the job.
Paulson, who retired as state Rep. Mike Sturla’s chief of staff last year but continues to practice law, cited his involvement in local government throughout his career as a lawyer, community organizer and political consultant. He taught municipal government classes at Reading Area Community College, he said, and helped Lancaster County train new election judges.
The 75-year-old town resident, who unsuccessfully ran for state senate in 2016, said he thought it was important that a town owner be named, someone one who understands the issues that the people of the city face. Also, as an attorney who previously worked on quality of life cases for inmates, he worries about the county’s plans to build a new jail.
“My story here at Lancaster has been one of service, and I want to continue that,” Paulson said.
Crawford-Fisher said she applied to become commissioner to ensure out-of-town Democratic voices are heard. In 2019, she ran unsuccessfully for the school board at Penn Manor, which hasn’t had a Democrat in 58 years, she said. As a current business consultant and former employee of several local school districts, she said she is uniquely positioned to help the county recover from the “volatility the pandemic is doing to our education and our businesses.” .
“I love resolutions and making resolutions easier because we’d be doing so much more if we were all growing in the same direction,” said Crawford-Fisher, 58.
She added that she had applied out of concern that ‘other people would come forward’, adding that she had been ‘pleasantly surprised’ by the other applicants, namely Gockley, with whom she had worked during the flu pandemic. H1N1 from 2009 while employed by the county. and she by the Hempfield School District.
“I would be honored to serve, but I could also support many people who are on this list,” she said.
Crawford-Fisher was among the first candidate names posted on the county Court of Common Pleas website, although the court later removed her name pending her submission of the appropriate background check waiver, which she said she would hand over on Thursday.
Castaldi, 65, is an elected member of the Mount Joy Borough council. He ran unsuccessfully in 2021 as a Democrat to become the county’s recorder of deeds. He worked as a federal economist at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and most recently as a COVID-19 contact tracer for Lancaster General Health. He also noted that he had held elective office in Lancaster and Chester counties.
“I would love the opportunity to represent the people of Lancaster County, and I believe I have the knowledge and experience to work well with the other two commissioners to do so,” he said. .
Marks could not immediately be reached for comment.