Luzerne County officials must scramble to provide election office oversight as the Nov. 6 general nears because acting election bureau director Tom Pizano unexpectedly submitted paperwork Thursday announcing his retirement effective Monday.
Pizano, who held elected and appointed county posts for a period spanning four decades, also was interim clerk of courts. He added the election office to his duties in April, when Leonard Piazza was terminated as election director.
The county administration has been interviewing applicants for the election director post, with hopes to select someone soon to work through the general election with Pizano's continued guidance.
Pizano, who could not be reached for comment, informed clerk of court staffers about his departure on Thursday afternoon.
County election board member John Newman said Pizano called him around 4 p.m. Thursday so he would hear the news from him.
Newman declined to discuss Pizano's reasons, but several employees close to Pizano said he has been coping with a health issue.
"I was a little surprised. We're going to miss Tom and wish the best for him," Newman said.
Newman said he and Pizano were busy earlier in the week developing a plan to better allocate existing staff in the election office to handle the typical presidential election onslaught of absentee ballot requests and registration forms.
Newman and other county officials said they're confident a plan will be implemented to ensure the Nov. 6 election will be properly conducted.
"I do not have any concerns the election will be problematic," Newman said.
County Manager Robert Lawton said the administration will discuss options in coming days and brief the election board and county council.
"Any necessary resources or personnel will be provided to make sure the election is handled in a proper and professional manner," said council Chairman Tim McGinley.
Pizano, 60, has worn several hats in his county government career.
He worked 12 years as county election director until resigning in 1993 to work in the family's greenhouse and farm in Exeter. He holds a degree in agriculture from West Virginia University.
Pizano became county controller in 1998 and served as a Democratic majority county commissioner from 2000 to 2003.
He returned to the county at the end of 2005, when then-clerk of courts Bob Reilly appointed him deputy of the office, which oversees criminal court records.
Prothonotary Deputy Art Bobbouine was recently assigned to oversee day-to-day operations in Reilly's office to reduce criminal court record processing backlogs and advance the home rule merger of the civil and criminal record offices.