Luzerne County Election Board Chairwoman Denise Williams urged careful consideration before council fills a vacant seat on the five-citizen, volunteer board.
“The board serves all citizens of Luzerne County — citizens from all political affiliations. There is no place for partisanship on the Board of Elections,” Williams said in an email read during this week’s council meeting.
A Republican seat is open because Missy Thomas resigned late last month due to other commitments.
Under the county’s home rule charter, the board must have four council-appointed members (two Republicans and two Democrats), with those four then selecting a chair of any affiliation.
Council had appointed Democrat Kathryn Roth and Republicans Thomas and Richard Nardone to the board in March, when it was down to one member — Democrat Audrey Serniak — due to removals related to a charter prohibition and resignations. The following month, those four unanimously selected Williams, a Democrat, as the fifth member/chair.
Three Republicans remain on council’s eligibility list for possible appointment to the board: Lynn Bartz, of Dallas; Candice Chilek, of West Pittston; and Alyssa Fusaro, of Luzerne.
To be considered, other interested Republicans would have to submit applications by this afternoon and participate in an online public interview session at 6 p.m. this evening, said council Vice Chairman Vice Chairman Chris Perry, who chairs council’s Authorities, Boards and Commissions Committee.
Perry said he scheduled this session before Thomas resigned, and no additional Republican election board applicants had surfaced as of Wednesday afternoon.
Williams said she is hopeful the committee will hold another interview session before council votes on the appointment Oct. 26 to ensure all Republicans are aware of the new vacancy and opportunity to apply. Perry said he does not believe an additional session will be possible due to scheduling conflicts.
Applications are available on council’s authorities/boards/commissions link at luzernecounty.org.
In her recent communication to council, Williams said she personally committed to serve “through the lens of non-partisanship” in striving for fair, impartial and accurate elections. She also pledged to encourage continued improvement and transparency and examine facts and follow state election laws/guidance in making decisions.
“I believe that these are ideals that the citizens of Luzerne County expect Election Board members to emulate and aspire to,” she wrote.
Applicants also should be aware of the responsibilities and time involved in serving on the board, Williams told council.
In addition to preparing for and attending regular evening board meetings, members must be available during the day for a little over a week to two weeks after each primary and general election for the adjudication process, she said.
“Candidates should be asked if they have the time and are willing to commit to being an active member of the Board of Elections,” Williams said.
Due to charter prohibitions, citizens cannot serve on the board if they are an elected county or public official, a county or public employee or a member or employee of any other county authority, board or commission. Furthermore, appointees can’t be a political party officer or a paid consultant, contractor or employee of an entity serving as a contractor of the county or any county authority, board or commission.
These prohibitions go beyond current circumstances and apply four years prior to appointment.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.