Lehigh County commissioners initiate process to appoint a county executive

Appointee will serve until an elected exective takes office in January

Posted: 5:04 PM EDT May 20, 2013
New Lehigh Co. exec William Hansell

Lehigh County commissioners will appoint a county executive by July 2 to replace William Hansell, who resigned as executive Friday because of poor health.

The appointee will serve until an elected executive takes office in January.

While seven of the nine commissioners are Republicans, that appointee must be a Democrat, the same party as Hansell, according to the county's home rule charter.

The commissioners have 45 days from Friday to fill the vacancy.

Applications will be sought by placing a notice in  local newspapers.

Candidates must be residents of the county and registered to vote for at least one year.

Individuals interested should submit an application  letter to: Lisa Scheller, Chair, Lehigh County Board of Commissioners, 17 S. Seventh St., Allentown,
PA 18101-2400.

Applications must be received by 4 p.m. May 28. 

Applications will be forwarded to the commissioners'  Intergovernmental & Appointments Committee, which will review them and make a recommendation to the full board of commissioners by June 17, according to Scheller.

The commissioners can confirm or reject the committee's recommendation.  If rejected, any commissioner can nominate any other qualified person. 

Commissioners could select a county executive before the July 2 deadline, noted David Barilla, clerk to the commissioners.

If the commissioners fail to fill the vacancy, it will be filled by the county Court of Common Pleas.

The appointee will serve until replaced by an elected executive, who will take office Jan. 6.

Thomas Muller, the Democratic candidate for executive, will face either Republicans Bob Ott or Dean Browning in the November election.

When Hansell resigned, he appointed Muller, the county's director of administration, as acting county executive until commissioners appoint a new executive. Muller also served as acting executive in 2012, from the time Don Cunningham resigned July 8 until Hansell was sworn in Aug. 29.

Cunningham was elected. Hansell was appointed by the commissioners to complete Cuningham's term after he resigned.