Luzerne County Council chairmanship decision Tuesday

By Jennifer Learn-Andes -
McGinley -
McClosky Houck -

Luzerne County Council’s chairmanship is up for grabs Tuesday, when three newly elected members will be seated.

While all 11 council members have equal voting power, the chair presides over public meetings and often serves as spokesperson of the legislative branch.

The chair also prepares meeting agendas and largely oversees one county staffer, the council clerk.

Council Vice Chairman Tim McGinley appears to have majority support to become the next chair, according to political insiders.

Current Council Chair Linda McClosky Houck also is expected to be nominated.

McGinley and McClosky Houck declined to discuss their interest in the post or speculate on the vote, saying they will wait to see what happens at Tuesday’s reorganization meeting.

A vice chair also will be selected. The vice chair oversees preparations for council to fill vacant seats on outside boards and authorities and conducts council meetings when the chair is unavailable.

The new council members — Chris Perry, Sheila Saidman and Matthew Vough — will be sworn in at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the first-floor south lobby of the courthouse on River Street in Wilkes-Barre.

They replace council members Kathy Dobash, Eileen Sorokas and Rick Williams.

A chair is typically selected in January following council elections every two years.

McClosky Houck has served as chair for three years, or since January 2015, when prior Councilman Rick Morelli chose to give up the leadership post after one year, saying he wanted to give someone else a chance.

She was selected chair again in January 2016. At that time, the vote was tied 5-5 for McClosky Houck and McGinley, with Councilman Stephen A. Urban absent. In a second round of voting, Councilman Eugene Kelleher opted to resolve the matter by changing his vote and picking McClosky Houck.

McGinley had served as chair from August 2012 until a majority voted to replace him with Morelli in January 2014.

Former councilman Jim Bobeck was the first chair under the home rule government, which took effect in January 2012. Bobeck gave up the chairmanship early, saying he wanted to concentrate more on council’s strategic initiatives committee.

No other voting matters are on Tuesday’s agenda. The reorganized council must set a meeting schedule for 2018.


McClosky Houck Houck

By Jennifer Learn-Andes

If you go

Luzerne County Council will hold a reorganization meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the council meeting room at the county courthouse on River Street in Wilkes-Barre.

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

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