The following Letter to the Editor was declined by the Times Observer newspaper in Warren, Pennsylvania.
I am writing about the upcoming election for the Warren County Board of Commissioners. There is a new situation facing the voters that we have not dealt with before. There are two candidates who hold full time jobs in the private sector and who have expressed verbally and in writing that they intend to continue in that employment as well as serving as county commissioners, if elected.
I wondered if other commissioners have been able to accomplish that challenge in the past so I did some research. I interviewed past commissioners, checked with the historical society and obtained a list of commissioners from the courthouse all the way back to 1940. I was able to do interviews back to 30 years ago. I did ask those I reached about the status of those I could not reach as far as their private employment while serving. If I missed any pertinent information, please correct me, readers! I gave it my best effort.
In the last 30 years, there has been no commissioner who had been employed in the private sector while they served. And I was told none in Northwest PA. There have been those who were self-employed. To me, that seems different since they are the boss and can set their own hours in their business. We’ve had farmers who hired help to work the day hours and then went home and worked evenings and weekends. And I remember taking pets to Doc Rice’s evening office hours. The others in that 30-year period left their former jobs during their county service.
.Are we willing to pay part time commissioners $ 57,178 salary plus the cost of full benefits? Would someone part time be willing to forego some of the benefit package since they already have one? It’s true there is no written job description stating how many hours are required to earn this salary. (Fun Fact: 30 years ago the pay was $27,000.)
The voters/taxpayers will need to think about trying this new approach. Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s good or bad, just something to consider carefully while evaluating the field of candidates we are privileged to consider for this election.