Last updated: March 10. 2013 11:27PM - 4034 Views
By - jandes@timesleader.com - (570) 991-6388

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Two more Republicans have confirmed their plans to run for Luzerne County Council — Joyce Dombroski-Gebhardt and Sue Rossi.

Dombroski-Gebhardt, Kingston, is an executive secretary in a family-owned business. She previously ran for county council in 2011.

A Butler Township resident, Rossi works as a notary and insurance agent.

Four other Republicans have announced plans to run: Alex Milanes, Wilkes-Barre Township; Kathy Dobash, Hazleton; and incumbents Harry Haas and Eugene Kelleher.

On May 21, Republican and Democratic voters will each select five council contenders to advance to the November general.

Tuesday is the last day for contenders to circulate and file their nomination petitions.

Only four Democrats have announced plans to run to date: Renee Ciaruffoli-Taffera, Larksville; incumbent Linda McClosky Houck, Kingston; Eileen Sorokas, Wilkes-Barre; and home rule charter drafter Richard Heffron, Dallas.

Democrat Michael Giamber, Fairmount Township, also is circulating a petition and strongly considering running.

Independent and third-party candidates may enter the race after the May primary.

* The number of candidates is a far cry from two years ago, when 49 Democrats and Republicans ran for the initial 11 council seats in the May 2011 primary.

Home rule attempted to create more opportunities for citizens to serve by expanding from three elected commissioners to 11 part-time council seats. Council members receive $8,000 per year.

However, observers believe some potential candidates have opted against running because of frequent evening council meetings that run past 10 p.m. and the quantity of information required to get up to speed on county business.

* County government watchers have been questioning if county Councilman Jim Bobeck is planning to run for county district attorney in 2015, largely because of his intense questioning of District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis when she appears at council meetings.

Bobeck, an attorney, said several people have asked if he plans to run.

His response: “I currently have no other plans than to finish my term as county council member, which is the best community service I could do right now.”

Bobeck’s council term runs through 2015.

* County Controller Walter Griffith has hired local resident Dan Chipego as deputy controller. Griffith said Chipego has a master’s degree in business administration.

Chipego started work Monday and will be paid $50,000, Griffith said. Griffith said three people applied for the position, and he followed the county’s home rule personnel code hiring process to make the selection.

“I thank council for its wisdom giving me the extra staff I need to get the job done,” Griffith said.

* An April 3 court date has been set for oral arguments in the county’s legal battle seeking a share of Triple-A baseball franchise sale proceeds.

The county’s suit says Lackawanna County is legally required to hand over half the proceeds from the $14.6 million franchise sale based on a formal agreement when the franchise was purchased by both counties.

Lackawanna filed a countersuit arguing Luzerne County isn’t entitled to anything and instead owes Lackawanna millions of dollars for past stadium repairs.

The Lackawanna County Multi-Purpose Stadium Authority, also named as a defendant in Luzerne County’s suit, sold the franchise to SWB Yankees LLC, a joint venture of the New York Yankees and Mandalay Baseball Properties.

* County Councilman Edward Brominski has requested a formal response from the county election bureau on citizen Bob Caruso’s recent complaint about election requirements he says were not followed in the 2012 general election.

Council Chairman Tim McGinley said the election bureau is preparing a report.

* County Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the council meeting room on the first floor of the county courthouse in Wilkes-Barre.

McGinley said council will meet in closed-door executive session at the start of the meeting, in part to discuss the status of the court-related union contract, which is in binding arbitration. The 110-member union includes sheriff deputies and clerks in several court-related offices.

* Representatives of the county ethics commission will discuss concerns with the county ethics code and other matters during the work session portion of Tuesday’s meeting. The commission’s report has been posted on the council section of the county website, www.luzernecounty.org, under Tuesday’s meeting attachments.

* The county Retirement Board, which oversees the employee pension fund, will hold a public work session at 1 p.m. today in the manager’s meeting room in the basement of the courthouse.

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