Judges face critical move in filling post

December 2, 2012

Within the next few weeks, we should learn who will be named to replace Pam Snyder on the Greene County Board of Commissioners.

Snyder, 57, who was in the first year of her third term, was elected this November to the state House representing the 50th District, the seat long held by Bill DeWeese.

DeWeese was sentenced in April to a 2 1/2- to-5-year prison term following his conviction in February on charges he used his legislative staff and other public resources to bolster his campaigns from 2001 to 2006.

The Waynesburg Democrat still won renomination in the spring primary, but in August, his named was removed from the ballot by a state appellate court judge.

That opened the door for the Democratic committee members from the municipalities in Greene, Washington and Fayette counties that compose the legislative district to select a candidate to run in November. Snyder was their unanimous choice.

Now, Greene County President Judge William Nalitz and his colleague on the bench, Farley Toothman, will make the selection from a host of letters from registered Greene County Democrats expressing an interest in the job to replace Snyder on the board of commissioners.

We don’t relish the task facing the court.

In August 2010, the two judges were confronted with a similar decision – naming a replacement for Democrat Dave Coder, who resigned a month earlier after he accepted the position of deputy district director for U.S. Rep. Mark Critz.

The court picked Waynesburg attorney Charles Morris from a crowded field of applicants. Morris served out Coder’s term and then was elected to a full, four-year term on the board in 2011.

And, in 2007, Nalitz and then-President Judge H. Terry Grimes had to name a replacement for Republican John Gardner, who died just prior to the May primary in which he was seeking his fifth term.

At the time, we advocated for Scott Blair, who served on the board from 2000 to 2004 after defeating Gardner in the 1999 general election.

We also suggested we didn’t think a custodial appointment (one who would guard rather than do) would be wise.

Paying little or no attention to our suggestion, the court appointed Gardner’s widow, Judy, to serve the remaining nine months of her late husband’s term.

In making the announcement, Grimes said the appointment of Mrs. Gardner, 64, was “appropriate” because she would provide continuity for the period of time left in the term.

In retrospect, the court made the right choice.

Whoever is selected this time undoubtedly will not just serve out Snyder’s fourth term, but will seek his or her own full, four-year term in the primary season of 2015.

We have heard some names thrown around, but Nalitz and Toothman aren’t saying anything about who submitted letters of interest.

We respect the court and have full confidence the judges will choose the person they believe can step in immediately and work cohesively with Morris and the GOP minority commissioner, Archie Trader.

With critical issues facing the county over the next several years, the last thing we want to see is an appointee using the commissioner seat as a soapbox for personal or political gain.



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