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Our Opinion: Hunt for Luzerne County’s next manager requires utmost professionalism – and a little luck

First Posted: 2:00 pm - February 6th, 2016

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Do you have a bachelor’s degree and a desire to earn a six-figure salary?

Apply to be Luzerne County’s next manager.

Do you have a bachelor’s degree but the disposition to be satisfied with only a high five-figure salary?

Apply to be Luzerne County’s next manager.

Advertised last week with an unusually broad compensation range, of between $96,564 and $175,571, the job of overseeing Luzerne County’s day-to-day affairs – and simultaneously trying to appease all or most of the county council’s 11 elected members – could attract an equally broad cast of characters.

A job announcement seeking applicants to replace Robert Lawton, who resigned late last year, appeared in area newspapers Friday. A description of the position and sought-after qualifications appear online, at www.luzernecounty.org/cm.

Job seekers must submit their résumés and other requested information by March 4.

The closely watched search process for Lawton’s successor hasn’t been without its uh-oh moments. Of the 10 or so citizens who stepped forward and applied to conduct the hunt, all but one are men. Council ultimately selected five men to participate on the search committee.

More recently, one of the chosen men dropped out, creating a vacancy that has yet to be filled.

In the days and weeks ahead, we hope the committee will hit its stride and identify a trio of candidates capable of orchestrating Luzerne County’s 1,400-plus employees and taming its $130 million yearly operating budget. The finalists’ names will be presented to the county council in April for its determination on who to hire.

By all indications, the committee’s search criteria is more exacting than its loosey-goosey salary range implies.

Anyone who submits only a standard listing of job skills and prior positions won’t get serious consideration. Beyond showing a résumé and at least five years of relevant management experience, the successful applicant also must supply the committee with documentation: proof that the person has handled tasks such as procurement, collective bargaining and institutional change.

Luzerne County already faces a challenge in successfully filling this post. Based on the way Lawton’s detractors essentially tarred and feathered him before pushing him toward the exit, talented managers might not throw their hats in the ring to take his place.

To attract a qualified candidate so soon after his departure, it’s important that the search process – and the people involved – convey top-notch professionalism.

For the record, Lawton was paid $110,000 annually. Generally speaking, we’d say he earned it.

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