Council incumbents retain seats; voters also elect Saidman, Vough, Perry

By Jennifer Learn-Andes -
Haas -
McClosky Houck -
Perry -
Saidman - -
Vough - -

Voters picked both incumbents and three newcomers to fill five Luzerne County Council seats, according to unofficial results.

Sheila Saidman was at the head of the pack, with 21,406 votes, followed by Matthew Vough, who received 20,386, with all 180 precincts reporting.

Incumbents Linda McClosky Houck and Harry Haas were next in line, with McClosky Houck receiving 20,369 votes and Haas garnering 20,319.

Chris Perry landed the remaining seat, with 20,125 tallies.

The unofficial tally for the five other contenders: Stephen J. Urban, 19,758; Wendy Cominsky, 19,365; Marc Dixon, 19,115; John Gadomski, 18,342; and Gregory S. Wolovich Jr., 16,620.

The selected five will serve with sitting council members Edward Brominski, Eugene Kelleher, Tim McGinley, Robert Schnee, Stephen A. Urban and Jane Walsh Waitkus.

Council members receive $8,000 annually and serve for four years.

Their duties include approving the budget and larger contracts, appointing members to outside county boards, enacting codes and ordinances, confirming nominations to eight division head positions and hiring and evaluating the manager.

Saidman, 68, of Kingston, is a retired lawyer who has worked as a county assistant district attorney, legal counsel for various entities and in private law practice. On the campaign trail, she said her skills as a litigator, negotiator and consensus builder would be beneficial on council.

“I’m thrilled. I am astounded by the support I had,” said Saidman, a Democrat. “I met so many wonderful people in Luzerne County and am just proud to represent them all.”

A Democrat from Pittston, Vough is the marketing manager at Keystone Automotive Operations Inc. in Exeter.

The 25-year-old emphasized his interest in fiscal responsibility and engaging youth. He purchased a house because he is committed to the area.

“I’m here to stay,” he said Tuesday night. “I hope to connect with young people to keep them here.”

Vough said he was overwhelmed and “very humbled” by the results.

“I’m here to work for everybody, regardless of whether they voted for me or not,” he said.

McClosky Houck, 59, of Kingston, is a Wyoming Valley West School District teacher and in her third year serving as county council chair, previously acting as vice chair for two years.

A councilwoman since the home rule government’s implementation in January 2012, McClosky Houck emphasized her work setting up the new government and support for refinancing and other initiatives to get the county back on solid fiscal footing.

“I would like to thank the voters of the county for the confidence that they have placed in me, not just in this election but also in previous elections,” said the Democrat.

She also thanked the public for supporting home rule.

“I think it is a great form of government. We still have a lot of work to go, and I’ll be happy to be a part of that,” she said.

Haas, 42, of Kingston, is a Dallas Middle School teacher and also served since home rule was implemented.

“I’m grateful to the voters of Luzerne County for putting their confidence in me for another term. I’d also like to congratulate Linda and all the newcomers,” he said.

A Republican, Haas also viewed the results as “validation” that home rule is fulfilling promises to make county government more efficient and “better in every aspect.”

His goals for his final four years — home rule limits council members to three consecutive terms — include eliminating blight through a special committee he pushed to create, pushing for more solutions to the opioid epidemic and continuing discussions with legislators about unfunded mandates.

Perry, 68, of Fairview Township, is retired after a 36-year tenure in the Hazleton Area School District as a teacher, coach and athletic director.

He has stressed he wholeheartedly supports home rule and county Manager C. David Pedri’s leadership. A Republican, he also said he was humbled by the support he received and the people he met campaigning.

“There are so many good people who are concerned and want to continue moving the county forward,” Perry said.

Perry will try to work with all council colleagues.

“I’m looking forward to it. There are big decisions to make, and it will not be easy,” he said. “I want to make things better because we all live here.”


McClosky Houck Houck



Newcomers Saidman, Vough and Perry also elected

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

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

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