Osborne said Eckhart, “whose office audits the executive branch,” set up a defense fund to help pay legal fees to Croslis or his law firm when District Attorney Jim Martin legally challenged Eckhart’s right to hold that office shortly after being a county commissioner. Eckhart won that case.
Croslis said he wants to be county executive for the “opportunity to do public service and contribute back to the community.”
“My promise to the commissioners and to the residents of the county is that I will come with a different perspective and I will be willing to take on things that maybe other people with political ambitions might not be.”
One of his goals will be to take politics out of the position. He said it’s a unique opportunity to do public service without being involved in politics or the baggage that comes with politics. He said he’s not interested in running for any office.
He hopes that will free him from people questioning his motives when he makes decisions as county executive.
Croslis said he started his own business and works for himself. He said a multitude of people work for him and rely on him, “but it’s at the point now where I feel I can step back a little and devote my time to something I’ve wanted to do since 2001.”
He started his residential real estate company in 2008, during the Great Recession, “and we’ve grown to 23 agents with offices in three counties. If you do things right, if you do things smart, you can accomplish great things.”
Croslis also hopes he can remove some of the politics from the upcoming budget season. He doesn’t want the budget to become a political football, preferring a collaborative process that begins even before the 2014 budget is introduced to the commissioners in August.
Saying he seeks good ideas from people, Croslis said: “I’m smart enough to know what I know, and I’m smart enough to know what I don’t know.” He intends to immediately form a committee of local business leaders and retired government leaders willing to volunteer to help him with the next budget.
He said his only angle is to get the best budget and “hopefully propose more long term things that people with political ambitions might not want to propose.”
He said the financial priorities are for the county to take care of what it is mandated to do. “Everything else is up for discussion,” he said, indicating that could include funding for parks, arts and the county zoo.
But he said he has no pre-conceived notions about cutting the budget without first talking to those directly involved. He intends to meet with commissioners and department heads.
He also would look at overtime, sick leave, flexible scheduling and early retirement packages for county employees, as well as consolidation and ways the county might raise revenues, including using the county parking deck for hockey arena parking.
McCarthy wants more interaction between commissioners and the county executive on the budget. He doesn’t want the administration’s proposed budget to be a big surprise when it comes before commissioners on Aug. 31 or Sept. 1.
He suggested a couple of commissioners would work on it in a liaison relationship with the administration.
But he also said the executive must focus on much more than just the county budget, adding his many years as a commissioner have given him expertise about the county’s operations, priorities, mission and people.
“I won’t need a learning curve when I’m sworn in. I bring more experience, knowledge of county government and all the entities that we deal with.” He added he also knows the commissioners’ priorities.
“I don’t have a grand plan for six months of administration in the county,” said McCarthy. “My major concern is that the county will go through four executives in an 18-month period, with the new executive coming on in January.
“My goal would be to keep the ship of state afloat, sailing on its mission, bring it into port so the next county executive can get on board and carry the ship of Lehigh County in the direction he thinks is the best way for the county to go.”
He offered “stability and some predictability” – but no disruptions -- while carrying out the functions and missions of the county.
McCarthy said if he would run to be elected county executive, he would have goals and an agenda. “But I have none of that now. That is not my priority at this point.”
He said he has no changes in mind. “This is an appointed position, not an elected position. There’s so little time, but that time is very important to our citizens. It needs to be carried out in a very business-like, professional fashion.”
McCarthy said he will be a full-time executive, explaining other members of his law firm will fill in for him. “I can devote for six months the time, the energy, the focus on this.”