Thursday, July 10, 2014





Several apply for county controller vacancy

County Council will select a Republican to fill Walter Griffith’s remaining term


August 20. 2013 11:46PM

By - jandes@civitasmedia.com




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Six more applicants submitted resumes Tuesday to fill Walter Griffith’s remaining Luzerne County controller term through the end of the year, ending concern that County Council won’t have choices.


Carolee Medico Olenginski and Karen Ceppa-Hirko also had applied, but both said they are strongly considering withdrawing their names.


Medico Olenginski has said she doesn’t want to be accused of receiving an unfair advantage now that the Republican Party has placed her on the ballot in the controller’s race in November. An appointment to the temporary seat would provide public exposure. Ceppa-Hirko has said she is reconsidering because she did not receive the ballot nomination.


The following Republicans applied by Tuesday’s 4:30 p.m. deadline: Michael Caravaggio, Mountain Top; Aaron Kaufer, Kingston; Walter Mitchell, Bear Creek Village; John Sokolowski, Plains Township; Peter Gagliardi, Wilkes-Barre; and Malcolm Hudgeon, Wilkes-Barre.


Here’s a summary of the educational and work experience from resumes submitted by the six new applicants:


• Caravaggio has an associate’s degree in electrical engineering from Penn State University and also attended King’s College and Wilkes University. He has worked at Harris Semiconductor in Mountain Top since 1961, advancing from a technician to various management positions, most recently an engineering leader responsible for eight engineers.


• Kaufer has a bachelor’s degree in government/law and international business from Layfayette College. He has worked as controller at Mr. Water Inc. in Kingston from 2007 to 2011 and unsucessfully ran for state representative in the 120th Legislative District against Phyllis Mundy in 2012. He has worked as an academic lecturer since 2012, has owned Kaufer Consulting since 2011 and is co-owner of Tap Cleaning Solutions in Kingston.


• Mitchell has a bachelor’s degree in American studies from Lafayette College and has completed master’s level courses in accounting, taxation and financial planning at American College. He is the mayor of Bear Creek Village and has been owner/operator of Mitchell Financial Group, an insurance and financial and estate planning firm, for 36 years.


• Sokolowski has a master’s degree in public administration from Marywood University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Scranton. He worked as a branch manager for the U.S. Small Business Administration from 1973 to 1984, corporate administrator at Markdata Inc. until 1986 and held various management positions at the Tobyhanna Army Depot from 1986 through May 2013, most recently in business management.


• Gagliardi has a master’s degree in government and politics from Georgetown University, a bachelor’s degree in government and history from King’s College and a diploma in national security studies from the Naval War College. He has 17 years of experience with the federal government, 20 years as a freelance writer and has held various customer-service and sales positions in private industry.


• Hudgeon, Wilkes-Barre, has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from National University. He has worked as an electrician and also was employed as maintenance manager for various businesses, including The Malakite Group in Mineola, N.Y. and Lafayette Ambassador Bank in Nazareth.


Mitchell had withdrawn his application for the controller ballot slot awarded to Medico Olenginski because he did not want to close his business for four years if he would be elected. He said Tuesday he could be a full-time controller and still keep his business operational for four months because he has an assistant and can meet with clients outside county business hours.


He supports council’s plans to honor the home rule charter directive to appoint someone.


“To keep the office vacant until the end of the year I think is unfair to the taxpayers of the county who expect an independent voice, especially with the upcoming establishment of the county’s 2014 budget and tax rates for the future,” Mitchell said.


The temporary appointee will be paid $1,406 every two weeks through Jan. 3, when the controller elected in November will take office. Medico Olenginski is running against Democrat Michelle Bednar.


County Council agreed to publicly interview the applicants starting at 6 p.m. Thursday in the council meeting room at the courthouse. The applicants will be interviewed separately and kept out of the room while other contenders are being interviewed to be fair, council decided.


Council members plan to choose someone at their Aug. 27 meeting.




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