Montgomery County needs a new commissioner. Here’s how they’ll pick one

Dr. Val Arkoosh walks to the podium

File photo: Dr. Val Arkoosh walks to the podium to speak during a meeting of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party State Committee in Harrisburg, Pa., Saturday, Jan. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

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Montgomery County has to replace County Commissioner Val Arkoosh, who was tapped by Gov. Josh Shapiro to be Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Human Services.

Arkoosh, chairperson of the board of commissioners, resigned effective Jan. 17. The county court administrator’s office is taking applications to fill her role until Jan. 23.

Montgomery County spokesperson Kelly Cofrancisco said county officials are “hoping” to have the seat filled by the next commissioners’ meeting on Feb. 2.

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“But it’s unclear,” Cofrancisco said. “Ideally we would have a replacement named by that date. But it’s not our process, it’s the court’s process.”

Mike Kehs, the county court administrator, said the process will be handled in a “timely fashion.”

Eligible applicants must be Montgomery County residents and registered Democrats — “a member of the same political party as the commissioner whose place is to be filled at the time the commissioner was elected,” according to the county code.

The county’s Board of Judges will interview candidates and vote. According to Pennsylvania law, in the event of a tie, President Judge Carolyn Carluccio will make the final call.

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The chosen commissioner will fill Arkoosh’s seat until the end of her term this year. That commissioner can also decide to run in the May primary and potentially serve a full term of four years.

Until a new commissioner is chosen, commissioner and Vice Chairperson Ken Lawrence (D) will lead the commissioners’ meetings.

The three commissioners will vote to select the next board chairperson after the new commissioner is sworn in.

During Tuesday’s commissioners’ meeting, with just commissioners Joe Gale (R) and Lawrence, the commissioners unanimously approved every motion. If the two disagree in any meetings before a new commissioner is seated, as they often do, and there is a tie vote on any action items, those items will be tabled and placed on an agenda for a future meeting.

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