Prior veteran Luzerne County councilman Tim McGinley has filed nomination paperwork to serve on the proposed government study commission.

April 23 primary election voters will simultaneously decide if they want to convene a commission and choose seven citizens to serve on the panel. The selected seven would only serve if the referendum passes.

Nomination papers and all required documents must be filed with the election bureau before 4:30 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 13).

McGinley said he believes he has much to contribute in the process of analyzing county government structures.

Currently a Wyoming Valley West School Board member, McGinley is intimately familiar with the current county government structure due to his 12 years serving as a county council member from the start of home rule until the end of 2023.

McGinley also said he has some experience with the prior commissioner/row officer structure in place before 2012 through his decade of work as administration director at the Commission on Economic Opportunity (CEO). That agency partners with the county to cover some social service needs.

“I can help to contrast the two forms and recommend and provide insight on the many aspects of the current charter,” said McGinley, who did not seek another council term due to the charter’s consecutive three-term limit.

If activated, the commission must examine the county’s current home rule structure that took effect in 2012 and decide if it wants to prepare and recommend changes. The commission would be free to recommend alterations to the existing charter, an entirely new charter or a return to the prior state code system in which three elected commissioners and multiple row officers handled decisions that now rest with an 11-member council and appointed manager. Voters must approve any recommended change for it to take effect.

The commission would have nine months to report findings and recommendations and an additional nine months if it is opting to prepare and submit government changes. An extra two months is allowable if the commission is recommending a charter electing council by district instead of at large.

In the first study commission filing to get on the primary ballot, seven citizens teamed up to collect the required nomination signatures from county voters: Alisha Hoffman-Mirilovich, Fairview Township; Vito Malacari, Hanover Township; Mark Shaffer, Wilkes-Barre; Andy Wilczak, Wright Township; Fermin Diaz, West Hazleton; Claudia Glennan, Salem Township; and Cindy Malkemes, Dallas Township.

Beth Gilbert had sent a communication to county officials Friday questioning why the election bureau accepted McGinley’s nomination papers when they did not list at least three people he would want to serve as a “vacancy committee” to nominate someone to run in his place if he withdraws from the race or becomes incapacitated.

Gilbert previously worked as county deputy election director and acting election director and is now the voting engagement organizer for Action Together NEPA. Gilbert had issued the media release announcing the formation of the seven-candidate slate that already filed nomination papers.

The county law office is reviewing Gilbert’s inquiry, and its unclear if the vacancy committee omission would be considered a fatal defect if someone opts to file a challenge seeking his removal from the ballot. A court also could provide an option for McGinley to name a vacancy committee to remedy the situation.

This vacancy committee process would only apply before the primary because vacancies of elected study commission members are filled by the remaining seated study commission members.

Study commission candidates must obtain at least 200 signatures from county registered voters on their nomination papers. Voters can nominate up to seven candidates.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.


Dallas Post

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