The LuLac Edition #1796, October 15th, 2011
SOUND OFF SATURDAY
Last week in LuLac Edition #1783, October 4th, I invited County Council candidates to tell my site why they should be elected to this new form of government. I asked a few questions and these were the candidates that responded. We are making the Saturday editions of October 22nd and 29th available to the other candidates. You can send me your answers at firstname.lastname@example.org. If we do not have sufficient responses, we do have a fantastic fallback position for the next two Saturdays. We picked the people who responded to us by alphabetical order for fairness. Here are some of your candidates for Luzerne County Council.
EDWARD A BROMINSKI-DEMOCRAT
1. I am Edward A. Brominski. I have been a mayor, County Commissioner and the Director of the Luzerne County Assessment office so I believe I have
a view of county organization from the ground up, and can be a valuable resource person to the new County Manager.
2. My priorities as a council member are to have the people aware of where their tax money is spent, and see that those in county employ, are available
to provide up to the minute response to a need.
3. If I had a priority that opposed those which were opposite to the good of the whole county, I should be put aside.
4. I would like an Educated person beyond a four year college degree, with either county , state or federal government management experience of at
least 5 years. He or she should also show experience working under adverse conditions which would be useful in reducing our deficit.
5. Yes I would , as I did in 1999 when I tried to expose illegalities in the assessors office and called for a re-assessment. As a result, my job was eliminated
from the 2000 budget.
6. Yes, given that any increase will be used directly to improve and maintain service to the public. In 1980, when elected commissioner, we raised the
taxes 8 mils to 22 mils , and balanced the budget for the next four years and had a $500,000 surplus when I left office in 1984.
7. Ethics to me is having morals which do not translate into self interests , but rather , those interests are for the good health and well being of one’s
8. I feel I am a flexible leader who can help the manager perform his duties for the common good.
9. The county government at this point, must begin to restore the confidence of the public in it’s ability to take care of constituent needs. The
government must eliminate self interests and develop an attitude that “what is good for all” must be done. The government must become morally
sound and think in terms of all in the county as family and not political entities.
Thank you, Edd
Thank you for your opinion and enthusiastic spark to jump start more candidates into the conversation and controversy as we consider choices on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 for the general election. I am very serious about this important transition for Luzerne County.
My response is an essay about myself and my view on the elected Luzerne County Council work as a team to serve the citizens of Luzerne County.
My name is Kathleen M. Dobash. I am 52 years old. I live in Hazleton, PA. I am a graduate of the Pennsylvania State University. I am a former art educator. I currently work as a Therapeutic Staff Support Worker. I am an artist and activist. I will continue Luzerne county Controller Walter Griffith's efforts for accountability with expenditures. I will work to keep services for those who qualify and eliminate wasteful spending. I believe in full and open transparency. All decisions made by the new Luzerne County Council must be open and above board. The County Council cannot tend to personal agendas backed by inflated egos with giant political objectives. Luzerne County must heal first to move forward in the restoration of trust. While managing the rumor hotline during the recent flood crisis I received callers who were evacuated.. They returned to devastation and expressed anger about the waste and greed in the court system.
I acquired a wealth of knowledge and experience throughout my education and career as a teacher, artist and therapeutic staff support work. I visited many county offices over the last 5 years. I interviewed personnel and received important information about various departments. I recently toured the county prison. I spoke with many Luzerne County residents about their questions and concerns.
I will continue to pursue knowledge about our current government operations. I interact with people on a daily basis with the attitude I will do my best to provide help and service.
I plan to continue to work in the community with a dedicated and persistent effort everyday.
I disagree with your position about candidate statements to be a 'watchdog' to safeguard tax dollars.
The charter as written severely limits the Controller's ability to monitor expenditures. There is a lack of checks and balances. We all must continue to be a check and balance in our government.
The voters do not participate in the selection of the most important position: The County Executive. The County Executive has unlimited power. The County Executive must be a communicator and work with individuals of all backgrounds and abilities. This person must be efficient and attentive to the smooth transition for the consolidation of departments and personnel. The transition should not send all staff into a state of chaos. I believe the current majority of the Luzerne County Transition Committee has had zero respect for the citizen's demand for transparency by their attempt to hold closed executive sessions. This committee has tried to take on authority that is not in the charter. It has a strong appearance of impropriety.
My recent letters and statements have currently stopped the current chairman's grab for power and position. He is a candidate for Luzerne County Council. I am disappointed at the chaotic attempt to appoint interim positions. He is a lawyer and has an extreme conflict of interest. We need continuity not a chaotic process.
The charter did nothing to reform the Court System in Luzerne County. I will continue to represent the tax payers by asking questions. I believe it is the people not the form of government that makes a difference.
The reduction of county debt and maintenance of important county services is the priority.
I plan to demand the hired Luzerne County Executive live within the budget given. I will request the other members of council to work toward this goal. I will request the judicial branch of government be open and transparent in regard to hiring of tip staff. I will continue to pursue the truth and not be afraid to challenge others who evade direct questions in regard to budget and personnel. I will continue to ask for accountability of expenditures.
I am a dynamic conservative who wants to make a positive difference in Luzerne County. It is time to stand up when there is wasteful spending. I will not vote to raise taxes. There are other options.
I am not worried about re-elections. I will make my decisions based on the information and carefully consider options for each issue.
Kathleen (Kathy) M. Dobash
Candidate for Luzerne County Council
1. WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU WANT OUT OF BEING A COUNTY COUNCIL MEMBER?
I am Blythe H Evans and I am a candidate for Luzerne County Council. I am running for this job to help people. That is my main job. If I cannot help the residents of Luzerne County and put citizens first, then this office is a farce and would truly be ineffective and self serving to the people who are running for it. I want to get involved in my local county government. I think that we have been getting a raw deal in Luzerne County with regard to our elected officials. I want to be the one person who makes a difference to the many people who have no voice.
2. IT’S A BIG COUNTY, WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES AS AN ELECTED MEMBER?
1. To bring back to the taxpayer a fair share of our tax payer money
2. To balance our budget through sound economic measures
3. To grow our tax base without raising taxes, to bring more jobs and business to Luzerne County.
As an elected body, I think that the County Council should focus on these three key items when framing what work gets done:
Fiscal responsibility. Economic vitality and growth. Care for the Environment.
3. ARE YOU WILLING TO SET ASIDE YOUR PRIORITIES FOR THE GOOD OF THE WHOLE COUNTY?
Without question. Any candidate for this job who has accepted paybacks from political groups or organizations who in turn would naturally expect something back in return for that soft money needs to look long and hard at those decisions and ask himself/herself “Is this the right thing to do?”
4. TELL ME YOUR IDEAL OF AN IDEAL COUNTY MANAGER.
I think that both voters and the County Council need to look at the following qualities when electing the Council and the County Manager:
When the people speak in November to elect the new County Council, these qualities should be in the minds of both the citizen AND the elected County Council. If they are not, then we as citizens of Luzerne County will be once again bound and chained to the nepotism. despotism and cronyism that has walked hand in hand with Luzerne County Politics for the past 50+ years.
5. WOULD YOU SACRIFICE YOUR RE ELECTION FOR A TOUGH DECISION?
Yes. County Council members must find solutions to problems that come up which they can be proud of and should not accept bad deals for the benefit of one group or one elected member. This kind of thinking requires an extremely high level of patience, forethought and intellectual rigor on our part as County Council members. We are elected officials hired to do a job for the people of Luzerne County. But this job we have been entrusted to do requires that elected members reject dialogue that energizes an extreme and ushers in a cynical or lazy acceptance of easy answers. Strategies and decisions in getting things done for Luzerne County is not just about winning an election on November 8th, 2011. It is supposed to be about a thought process.
6. ARE YOU WILLING TO RAISE TAXES IF THERE ARE NO OTHER OPTIONS?
It would depend on what those options were, but I would be against raising taxes on the people. They have had enough.
7. DEFINE ETHICS FOR ME.
1. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart.
2. Love your neighbor as you would love yourself.
8. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS A LEADER, FOLLOWER OR A PERSON OF FLEXIBILITY?
I see myself as a person of flexibility. I want to work with the other candidates toward a common goal and to work to accomplish the tasks at hand. I also want to be a County Council member who listens to what my fellow members have to say and take their opinions into consideration. We have a very big job ahead of us. It is going to take both citizens and elected council members alike to make sure we make sound decisions.
9. WHAT SPECIFICALLY DO YOU SEE THE ROLE OF COUNTY GOVERNMENT BEING?
A basic structure of County Government should be a body of elected officials that
(1) perform administrative and judicial responsibilities for the state and
(2) carry out local government responsibilities for county residents.
I think that in light of recent political corruption events that took place in Luzerne County, there should be a third structural implementation which requires some accountability to the citizens as to what and how the County Council will govern, but we don’t normally see this kind of provision in most layouts of local County governments in the United States. Perhaps there could be specific legislation with regard to accountability that the County Council could try and place into legislation over the next four years.
why you should be elected in 100 words or less
I believe that we will need fresh ideas to move forward and I hope to bring those new ideas to the platform of the County Council. Some of those ideas include changes in our tax code, protecting our natural resources from special interests and most importantly, a sobering examination of the way money is being spent in the county. I am not a career politician. I have never taken money from organizations looking to finance my run for County Council. I am simply a private citizen looking to put taxpayers first. We have always come second. And we deserve better!
EILEEN M. SOROKAS-DEMOCRAT
Eileen Sorokas provided us with a copy of her remarks at a recent voter's forum.
"Good evening candidates, members of the League of Women Voters and the general public. I am Eileen M. Sorokas, candidate for Luzerne County Council. Presently, I have a home in Wilkes-Barre and rebuilding a farm in Hunlock Township, with my spouse Richard.
I am running for a seat on the County Council as a concerned citizen and taxpayer Also, to bring back the Dignity and Respect to Luzerne County residents. Certainly, I will be a voice for all the residents of Luzerne County. My Vision is to hear the county residents say, “What a great place Luzerne County is to live and work.” Accordingly, my Mission Statement is, “To serve all the resident of Luzerne County by listening and taking action.”
Furthermore, I am seeking this office as an independent democrat and will be accountable only to the residents of Luzerne County.
The main issue that the new council will encounter is to appoint a County Manager. Our County Manager besides meeting all the requirements in his Job Description must hold the line on taxes, have a program to eliminate the county debt, waste, and redundancy. Certainly, he or she must believe in transparency and have a continues improvement program. Finally, he or she must have the best interest of all residents of Luzerne County.
In conclusion, I will strive for an honest, responsive, and dependable government. A government that will understand and serve the needs of the people.
Remember, “Good government happens when good people participate.”
Lastly, I like to thank the League of Woman Voters for having me here tonight and humbly ask for your vote and support on November 8th. Thank-you".
1. WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU WANT OUT OF BEING A COUNTY COUNCIL MEMBER? I'm an architect, a businessman, a long-time community volunteer, a husband and father, with a lifelong interest in people, government and social issues. I'm a Registered Architect who, along with two partners, owns and operates Williams Kinsman Lewis Architecture in downtown Wilkes-Barre. I care deeply about Luzerne County, with knowledge of its gifts and challenges gained through three decades of community involvement. My wife Linda and I have two kids who are often easy to love. I am an "independent independent" with no axe to grind, no party to serve, no hunger for power. I want to be there at the start to build the foundation for a new way of governing ourselves. I hope the new county council develops a tradition of honest analysis of tough issues, listening, and leaders voting their conscience rather than "cutting deals". I hope our county government becomes really excellent, based on several priorities: 1. Provide excellent services and infrastructure to citizens and taxpayers.
2. Address the enormous debt we face by: • Making frugal decisions • Striving to find workable solutions with our collective bargaining units that treat and compensate our county staff fairly while raising morale • Growing the county's economic opportunities to increase the tax base.
3. Work with our educational institutions to create and retain an even more talented work force.
4. Attract and retain people and businesses by making our county a wonderful place to live.
2. IT’S A BIG COUNTY, WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES AS AN ELECTED MEMBER? Select and support the most high performing, accountable county manager we can find. Work with my colleagues to set high standards for future councils. Study, discuss, refine and adopt the new codes drafted by the Transition Committee: Ethics, Personnel and Administrative. Appoint citizens to all boards, authorities and commissions in a transparent and open process so that good people of diverse backgrounds can now participate. Grapple with the 2012 budget, our county's financial processes, and the long term debt.
3. ARE YOU WILLING TO SET ASIDE YOUR PRIORITIES FOR THE GOOD OF THE WHOLE COUNTY? Yes.
4. TELL ME YOUR IDEA OF AN IDEAL COUNTY MANAGER. A highly-motivated professional with healthy and successful experience leading a similar organization. A communicator with strong people and leadership skills. A smart decision maker with a "back-bone" and a long range vision. I appreciate strong educational credentials, but they are secondary to experience, communication skills, smarts, vision and guts.
5. WOULD YOU SACRIFICE YOUR RE ELECTION FOR A TOUGH DECISION? In a heartbeat!
6. ARE YOU WILLING TO RAISE TAXES IF THERE ARE NO OTHER OPTIONS? I have no intention of raising taxes , and l will work my "darndest" to avoid doing so. That said, absolute pledges are not wise standards for good fiscal management. There may be some horrible, no-good, very dire situation where it may become absolutely necessary to raise taxes. I'm wary of any candidate or politician who would say otherwise.
7. DEFINE ETHICS FOR ME. Doing the right thing…. particularly when no one is looking. Erring on the side of self-sacrifice when an action might possibly be interpreted as self-serving.
8. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS A LEADER, FOLLOWER OR A PERSON OF FLEXIBILITY? I can lead when necessary or when I'm inspired. I can listen. I can by-stand and observe. I have no need to be in charge. I have no axe to grind, no party to serve and no hunger for power.
9. WHAT SPECIFICALLY DO YOU SEE THE ROLE OF COUNTY GOVERNMENT BEING? To understand that we are stewards of our county's assets - physical, financial, social, economic and cultural-and that every decision should be guided by the common good. To provide the appropriate level of services and infrastructure for Luzerne County citizens that cannot be provided efficiently from other sources. To adopt sound policies and plans that will sustain future generations of our county. To foster and demonstrate a sense of community so that we respect, value and enjoy one another and this part of the world in which we live. My website is: www.RickWilliamsCountyCouncil.com.