Last updated: March 06. 2013 12:04AM - 5234 Views
By - jandes@civitasmedia.com - (570) 991-6388

Michelle Bednar.
Michelle Bednar.
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Two more contenders have surfaced in the Luzerne County controller race — Karen Ceppa-Hirko and Michelle Bednar.

Republican incumbent Walter Griffith said he's still in the race, which means he will run against Ceppa-Hirko, also a Republican, for the party's nomination in the May 21 primary.

Bednar, a Democrat, will compete against county Councilman Stephen A. Urban if he enters the race. Urban, a former county commissioner, has been seeking signatures on his nomination petition but hasn't announced if he will run.

The final candidate roster will be known on Tuesday, the last day to circulate and file nomination petitions for the primary ballot.

Griffith, Bednar and Ceppa-Hirko said they are not aware of any other expected controller candidates.

Ceppa-Hirko, of Wilkes-Barre, unsuccessfully ran for city mayor and city controller in 2011. A U.S. Army veteran, she has a master's degree in business administration with an accounting concentration from Misericordia University and has worked as a tax accountant at DeAngelo Brothers Inc. in Hazleton since 2011.

Her previous employment includes positions as controller at Commonwealth Equipment Corp. in Ashley, office manager/controller at Creative Business Interiors in Kingston and accountant at Newtown Manufacturing in Wilkes-Barre.

Ceppa-Hirko said she won't criticize Griffith's performance but believes her financial experience would be an asset. “With my background and education, I feel I am a good candidate for this position,” she said. “People need to have a choice.”

Bednar, of Conyngham Township, ran for County Council in 2011 but did not land one of the 11 seats in the general election, coming in 16th out of 28 contenders.

Bednar has been the township's elected tax collector since 2009 and has an associate's degree in tourism and travel management from Luzerne County Community College.

She has worked as an office manager for Newbridge Securities Corp. in Wilkes-Barre since 2004. Her prior work experience includes positions as financial/payroll supervisor at First Security Investments, sales/office worker at the Westmoreland Club and corporate trust supervisor at First Eastern Bank.

Bednar said many people approached her urging her to run.

“With over 25 years of experience in finance, I feel I have the expertise needed for the controller position,” Bednar said. “I am familiar with structures and regulations in the banking and financial industries and would put an emphasis on procedures in county government.”

Griffith said he has a proven record as an independent watchdog in county government and has been encouraged by many people to seek another term.

The county district attorney said Griffith is under investigation for alleged wiretapping, but Griffith continues to maintain his innocence, saying his only knowledge of an investigation is through news media coverage.

A majority of council voted to increase the controller's salary from $36,562 to $64,999 for the controller elected in November.

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