Montgomery County Democrats have named physician and health care activist Valerie Arkoosh to replace County Commissioner Leslie Richards, who was tapped to join Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s cabinet.
Arkoosh made an unsuccessful run for Congress last year, but impressed party leaders with her effort.
Four years ago Democrats won a majority on the three-member county commission for the first time ever, and the rules for succession ensure they’ll keep control for this year: county judges had to select a new commissioner from the same party as the departing one.
Tradition holds that the judges go along with the recommendation of the party designated to hold the seat. So Arkoosh is a commissioner for 2015, but she and fellow commissioner Josh Shapiro will have to battle Republicans to keep their posts in the November election.
In a telephone interview, Arkoosh said she’s looking forward to a forthcoming review of how the county’s health and human services are delivered.
“This county has taken advantage of the human services block grant, which gives the county some flexibility in how some of those monies are allocated,” Arkoosh said. “So it gives us the ability to innovate and try some new things. My goal would be improving the access to services and the quality of those services.”
Richards will become state transportation secretary, assuming she’s confirmed by the senate.