With support from three new Luzerne County Council members, Tim McGinley was selected as the new chair of the legislative body Tuesday in a 7-4 vote.
Prior council chairwoman Linda McClosky Houck also was nominated.
The chair often serves as council spokesperson and presides over public meetings, prepares meeting agendas and supervises the council clerk.
McGinley’s appointment was predicted through courthouse buzz, and council members did not discuss the choices or seek public input from McGinley or McClosky Houck before Tuesday’s vote.
In addition to his own vote, McGinley received support from Eugene Kelleher, Chris Perry, Sheila Saidman, Robert Schnee, Matthew Vough and Jane Walsh Waitkus.
Perry, Saidman and Vough were sworn into office before Tuesday’s voting session along with re-elected incumbents McClosky Houck and Harry Haas.
McGinley, who had served as chair from August 2012 until January 2014, said at the close of the eight-minute reorganizational meeting the county has made significant progress but still faces challenges.
“I would hope that everyone works together as a group so that we can have a very positive, meaningful experience while we serve here in the next two years,” he said.
Councilman Stephen A. Urban nominated McClosky Houck for chair — a role she had filled for three years. Like McGinley, McClosky Houck voted for herself. Haas and Councilman Edward Brominski also supported her chairmanship.
Schnee thanked McClosky Houck for her work as chair, saying she knows the county’s home rule charter “inside out” and deciphered changing financial figures during budget drafting.
“She did an outstanding job,” Schnee said.
Kelleher was appointed vice chair, a post previously held by McGinley. Kelleher was the only nominee and received unanimous support.
Rick Williams, who did not seek re-election, was the lone speaker during public comment and urged council members to continue paying attention to long-term strategic planning and goals.
County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael T. Vough administered the oath of office for the three new council members and two incumbents during a ceremony in the courthouse south lobby. It was a special day for his family because Matthew Vough is his son.
The judge commended the five for giving up their time and talent to help county citizens, saying it is the “ultimate public service.”
Candidates running for office today often must contend with anonymous online posters who criticize or poke fun at them, he noted.
“I want to thank you publicly for putting your name on a ballot and aspiring to these positions because without you, Luzerne County government doesn’t operate,” said the judge.
Council members receive $8,000 annually and serve for four years. Their duties include approving the budget and larger contracts, appointing members to outside county boards, enacting codes and ordinances, confirming nominations to eight division head positions, and hiring and evaluating the manager.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.