Frank Kane has been appointed Lehigh County’s new community and economic development director.
The nine county commissioners unanimously approved Kane at their meeting Wednesday night.
County Executive Matthew Croslis told commissioners he could have unilaterally named Kane as acting economic development director for 90 days without their involvement or approval, but he preferred to not go that route.
Nor did he want to “just try to wing it” by not filling that vacancy.
Croslis decided he needed a full-time economic development director more than he needed a chief of staff for the final three months of his term as executive. “I’ll learn how to do chief of staff,” he said.
Croslis said he didn’t want the economic development director position to remain vacant through the end of the year.
“A bunch of projects are on-going that somebody needs to answer for. The Hamilton Crossings TIF may come back, may not come back….,” he said.
With the possibility that a newly elected county executive will bring in his own management team in January, Croslis said it also would make no sense to hire somebody new to be economic development director through December.
Said Kane: “I’m planning to do something else anyway at the end of three months.”
Elaborating later, he said he assumes the next county executive will want to bring in his own cabinet staff.
That executive will be either Republican county commissioner Scott Ott or Democrat Tom Muller, who is Lehigh County’s director of administration, depending on whom voters elect in November.
Kane replaces Cindy Feinberg, who resigned Sept. 20. She had been the county’s economic development director since 2006.
Croslis said Feinberg did not give a reason for her resignation. “She kept it a secret from everybody.”
“Frank’s a great choice,” said Commissioner Michael Schware. “He’s obviously served well. He’s more than capable.”
Schware also appreciated Croslis letting commissioners have input on the appointment.
“I appreciate him bringing it to us,” echoed Ott, who then jokingly told Croslis that if Kane screws things up, it will be the county executive’s fault. “Don’t think you can shed responsibility by getting us to vote on it.”
“I didn’t think of it that way; maybe I am pushing it off,” laughed Croslis.
The 38-year-old Kane has been the county’s chief of staff since 2007. During those years, he did a three-month stint as acting director of the county’s human services department.
Commissioner Vic Mazziotti said there will be some salary savings for the county by not hiring a chief of staff to serve the rest of this year.
In 2006, Kane was hired as the county’s public affairs director.
“Frank has been here and has the institutional knowledge,” said Croslis.
From 2003-2006, Kane was press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of General Services.
Kane resides in Freemansburg, Northampton County.