Steps for new member discussed
By SARIT LASCHINSKY
Special to The Press
One of the first items of business on the South Whitehall commissioners’ April 7 meeting agenda was to accept the resignation of former commissioner, Matthew Mobilio.
Mobilio, who was first elected to the board in November 2019, submitted his resignation, effective immediately, to the township the week before.
The board unanimously voted 4-0 to accept the resignation.
Later, the board discussed how to appoint a new commissioner to fill the vacant seat.
Township Solicitor Joe Zator outlined the basic steps, noting the first action in the process would be the reception and approval of Mobilio’s resignation, which he said started the “time clock” for the decision-making process.
Zator said under the First Class Township Code, the board has a 30-day period during which a replacement needs to be appointed.
If the board is unable to do so within that 30-day window, there is then a 15-day period in which the vacancy board could fill the vacant seat.
If the vacancy board cannot find a replacement, the vacancy board chairman would then be directed by law to file a petition to the Court of Common Pleas, and have the court affirm name a person to fill the position.
To be considered for the commissioner position, applicants must have been a South Whitehall resident for at least the past year and be a registered elector.
Zator also said the appointed commissioner would only serve until the first Monday of January 2022, and the next person to fill that seat would be selected in the upcoming General Election.
This means in the fall election there would be three contested seats on the board of commissioners, instead of two, though Zator said the township would need to reach out to the Lehigh County Voting Office to confirm details.
Board President Christina “Tori” Morgan said commissioners needed to figure out a time frame and formal process for the appointment proceedings and several individuals have already expressed interest.
Commissioner Mike Wolk advised the board to document the entire process and issue it to the solicitor, township manager and public to ensure the process is unanimously agreed upon, and that the procedural details are not solely communicated by word-of-mouth.
Given the time restrictions, the board agreed to set a deadline of 4 p.m. April 21 for interested people to submit the necessary papers and documentation, with interviews scheduled to take place the week of April 26-30.
Commissioner Diane Kelly asked about the necessary documentation.
The board decided a letter of interest and resume would be sufficient.
Commissioners also agreed to include a specific question for applicants to answer within their letter of interest.
After numerous discussions the question which was selected was: What do you think the greatest improvement need is in South Whitehall Township, and how would you contribute to said improvement?
Wolk and Kelly also said interviews should be done publicly as being a commissioner is a public position, and the public has the right to view the process and hear the questions and answers.
Wolk clarified the public would be allowed to view the process, but not ask any questions of the candidates and the authority to ask any questions remains solely with the board.