ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Lehigh County commissioners officially said goodbye to one of their own Wednesday night -- and immediately began making plans to find a replacement.
The meeting was Scott Ott's last as a county commissioner, announced Lisa Scheller, chairwoman of the commissioner.
"You will be greatly missed on this board," Scheller told Ott. "I wish you the best of luck."
She presented him with a plaque "for his dedicated service to the citizens of Lehigh County."
"Commissioner Ott has been inspirational to me," said Scheller. "He has gone above and beyond in terms of the amount of time, effort, dedication and work he has put into his job as commissioner.
"I hope his replacement has the same dedication and work ethic and desire for public service that Scott has had."
Ott has been a county commissioner since 2012.
In addition to winning election to that seat, the Republican has a high profile among county voters because of his unsuccessful campaigns to be elected county executive in 2009 and 2013.
Ott also is well known because he and his fellow conservative Republican commissioners often took controversial stands on issues -- and they frequently have had the majority of votes on the board.
Vice chairman David Jones, one of only two Democrats on the board off commissioners, told Ott: "There is one valuable asset you definitely brought to the board. You've made us more of a deliberative body. And that's good."
"It has been a deliberative body," agreed Ott. "I think our discussions have been fruitful.
"Numerous times I've been in situations where I intentionally said ‘I'm not going to make up my mind until I hear what my colleagues have to say.' There have been times when I thought I knew how I was going to vote, and after I listened to the input that came from this dais, I changed my mind."
Ott also told his colleagues: "I think we're all doing the best we can to serve the people of Lehigh County and I know that you'll find a terrific replacement who will be even more fun than I am."
His resignation takes effect Friday.
The commissioners then will have 45 days to fill the vacancy.
Ott resigned because he's moving his family to Texas where his wife, Stephanie, has been hired by a church as full-time director of children's ministry.
Geoff Brace, the other Democrat among the commissioners, wished Ott "the best of luck with your new endeavors and fulfilling your family's call to ministry in Christ."
Ott has said his full-time job as a writer and video commentator for PJTV.com makes it possible for him to work from "any place in the world where they have a good internet connection."
When Commissioner Brad Osborne began explaining the steps to fill the vacant seat, Ott jokingly complained: "The body's not even cold, Brad."
Whoever is appointed will serve through December 2015, completing Ott's four-year term.
Anyone interested in being appointed must apply by June 9.
Letters of application should be sent to Lisa Scheller, Lehigh County Board of Commissioners, 17 S. Seventh St., Allentown, Pa., 18101.
Those letters must be in the commissioners' office by 4 p.m. June 9.
Applicants must be Republicans and registered voters who have resided in the county for at least one year prior to the date of their appointment.
Osborne reported no applications have been received yet.
Those who apply for the position will be interviewed in public by Osborne's Intergovernmental & Appointments Committee at 6 p.m. June 24.
Osborne said each candidate will be interviewed for 15-20 minutes.
Most of the commissioners plan to attend that meeting.
Osborne suggested the full board might be in a position to appoint a new commissioner at its June 25 meeting.
The commissioners have until July 14 to fill the vacancy.
Allentown, PA 18102
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