Luzerne County loses one finalist for top manager job

By Jennifer Learn-Andes - | May 2nd, 2016 7:05 pm

One of the three finalists for the Luzerne County manager job has dropped out of the running.

The “out-of-state applicant” informed the council clerk Friday he was withdrawing his application, council Chairwoman Linda McClosky Houck told the council in an email Saturday.

David W. Johnston, of Washington, was the only finalist who did not reside in Pennsylvania, according to finalist resumes recently released by a source.

Johnston could not be reached for comment Monday about his reason for withdrawing, although a council email said he indicated he was pursuing other opportunities. He has worked as city manager of Maple Valley, Washington, since 2009 and has held other governmental positions in Indiana and Illinois, his resume said.

The council had previously agreed to ask the citizen manager search committee for the top three finalists and request an additional name only if one of those three withdrew.

McClosky Houck told the council she has asked the citizen search committee to provide another qualified applicant.

Search committee Chairman Michael Giamber said Monday the committee has complied with McClosky Houck’s request. A committee meeting was not necessary because it had completed its scoring of applicants, he said.

The committee was required by the county’s home rule charter to conduct a search and interview and recommend finalists to the council.

Councilman Eugene Kelleher sent McClosky Houck an email Monday questioning the request for another name, saying he believes the committee fulfilled its obligation by furnishing the top three.

“I do not think we have to ask for another name. We should interview the two candidates and see if council will vote for one of the candidates to fill the position of county manager,” Kelleher wrote.

The other two finalists are Jeffrey D. Beck, of Mountain Top; and C. David Pedri, of Butler Township.

Beck has a master’s degree in business administration, owned a cleaning franchise company and previously had served as president and board director of Advanta Bank Corp. Pedri is chief county solicitor, has been serving as acting county manager since January, previously ran a private family law practice and worked as deputy county district attorney.

McClosky Houck said the two current finalists will be interviewed Tuesday night.

An interview for the remaining yet-to-be identified finalist will be scheduled after the council receives the finalist’s resume, written submissions and other background information, McClosky Houck said in her email Saturday.

The position is open because former county manager Robert Lawton resigned at the end of 2015.

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.