Last updated: February 17. 2013 7:33AM - 73 Views

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Wyoming County officials have agreed to loan an election office manager to Luzerne County through the Nov. 6 election, Luzerne County Manager Robert Lawton said Tuesday.

Luzerne County was in a bind because interim election director Tom Pizano unexpectedly retired last week.

Marisa Crispell-Barber, Wyoming County's voter education director and voting machine administrator, will start work here as early as this week temporarily supervising Luzerne County's election office, Lawton said.

Luzerne County must pay her current compensation of $22.96 per hour plus benefits, Lawton said.

Crispell-Barber, a Luzerne County resident, will be stationed here full-time through completion of post-election requirements, he said.

Lawton thanked Wyoming County officials for their cooperation.

Wyoming County is able to cover the election without Crispell-Barber because it has a full-time election director, though it has retained the right to recall Crispell-Barber if an emergency arises, Lawton said.

"We're very appreciative of Wyoming County's assistance. It's good news for the department and the voters. It ensures we will protect the franchise," Lawton said.

Crispell-Barber has worked in Wyoming County's election office for eight years, he said.

The Pennsylvania Department of State's election bureau also has agreed to work closely with Luzerne County and provide technical support through Nov. 6, Lawton said.

Interviews for a permanent county election director are expected to wrap up this week.

In an email to county council last week, Lawton said county election employees and other staff providing assistance are "qualified, capable and dedicated professionals."

"The manner in which our staff rose to the primary elections' challenges confounded those who believed that success depended on the presence of a single individual," Lawton wrote.

"I have no doubt they will continue to merit our respect and look forward to bringing them new, permanent leadership."

Pizano, who started his retirement Monday, was interim clerk of courts and agreed to add election bureau oversight to his duties in April, after Leonard Piazza was terminated as election director. Pizano has agreed to advise any workers assigned to oversee the election office, officials said.

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