timesleader.com

5 members consider 2nd terms

January 3, 2013

Luzerne County Councilman Harry Haas said he's almost 100 percent sure he's going to run for a second term this year.


Rick Williams, Linda McClosky Houck and Elaine Maddon Curry say they're considering seeking re-election but haven't made a definite decision.


Eugene Kelleher, the final councilman in a seat that's up for grabs, said he is consulting with his family before deciding.


The five council members are in two-year seats that expire at the end of this year because the 1-year-old home rule charter calls for staggered terms. All 11 council seats will be four years starting in 2014, with five or six selected every two years.


Republican and Democratic contenders can start circulating nominating petitions Feb. 19, and petitions must be submitted to the county on March 12.


Independent and third-party council candidates can get on the ballot after the May 21 primary if they obtain about 1,000 signatures, compared to the 250 signatures required for Democrats and Republicans.


Haas, a teacher from Wilkes-Barre, said he is carefully weighing the time commitment because he and his wife are expecting their first child in March.


I knew it would be a big investment of time, especially the first year. I really think we've laid the groundwork, said Haas, a Republican.


McClosky Houck, a teacher from Kingston, said walking away would be difficult because she and her colleagues have amassed extensive knowledge of home rule government and county operations needed to make informed decisions.


There's a big learning curve. We've put an awful lot of time in this, said McClosky Houck, a Democrat.


Maddon Curry, a medical librarian from Butler Township, said she wants to spend a few more weeks considering another run, largely due to the time required at meetings and researching county matters between sessions. She said she arrived home around midnight after many lengthy county meetings.


I wanted to be part of the county's new beginning, and I find it gratifying that we have gotten off to a good start, but there's so much more to do to keep the county in the right direction, said Maddon Curry, a Democrat. I understand going in it will be an enormous time commitment.


Kelleher, a retired teacher and financial services professional from Dallas Township, said the time requirements could ease up now that council members have established a budget procedure, a selection process for outside board appointments and the initial administrative, personnel and ethics codes.


We have to go back and review and revise the codes, but the next year will be more focused on making decisions, the Republican said.


Independent candidate

Williams, the first Independent-registered elected county official, said his first year in office has been very interesting.


I think this council has generally worked well together. There have been bumps and disagreements, but generally everyone is respectful and constructive, said the architect from Kingston. We still have a lot of work to do, but there's light at the end of the tunnel.


Williams encourages citizens to run, including other Independents and third-party voters.


That's a measure of success of the new charter, he said.


The charter expanded county leadership from three elected commissioners to 11 part-time council seats to create more opportunities for citizens to serve.


The remaining council members -- Rick Morelli, Stephen A. Urban, Jim Bobeck, Stephen J. Urban, Tim McGinley and Edward Brominski -- will serve through 2015 because they were the highest vote-getters in the November 2011 election.


County Council at a glance

Council members are paid $8,000 per year and must approve appointments to outside boards, the budget, tax rate, collective bargaining agreements, larger purchases and codes. Council also hires the manager and confirms appointees to eight division head posts.