LAWRENCE COUNTY Panel to study government wins approval
Three former county commissioners were elected to the study commission.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Lawrence County's government will be getting some close scrutiny in the next year by a panel of nine residents.
Voters approved a referendum creating a nine-member commission to study the government and make any recommendations for change.
Supporters of the study commission referendum said they were pleased with Tuesday's election results.
A series of negative advertisements and posters opposing the study surfaced about a week before the election.
"Maybe the negative ads were a plus for people to look at real facts and make up their minds," said Ruth Ray, president of the League of Women Voters. The league and attorney Thomas Shumaker headed the campaign to put the issue on the ballot.
Opposed panel: Lawrence County Commissioner Ed Fosnaught, a Republican, opposed the study commission and sent postcards to Republican voters and placed advertisements in newspapers urging them to vote it down.
"I think the people of the county expressed their opinion," Fosnaught said.
Fosnaught said he opposed the study commission because the commission's recommendation will likely hit voters in November 2002 just as they are receiving new property valuations from a countywide reassessment.
"It's going to be controversial, and I'm concerned that home rule will somehow be related to property reassessment, and the two are totally unrelated," he said.
County Commissioner Roger DeCarbo, A Democrat who also opposed the study commission, said he is convinced that those elected to the study commission will recommend a change in county government.
"I just hope they put on a show," he said.
DeCarbo said he also thinks there were voters who missed the question on the ballot because it appeared on the back side.
Seats won: Among those winning seats on the government study commission are three former county commissioners and several members of the League of Women Voters. There were 31 people seeking positions on the study commission.
Elizabeth M. Veterano came out on top with 6.19 percent of the vote, followed by Shumaker with 6.06 percent.
Other study commission members will be Helen Jackson, Gale E. Measel Jr., Wendell B. Wagner, Janet Verone, Amy E. Lamb, Gary L. Clark Sr. and D. John Razzano.
Task at hand: The group must meet soon after election results are officially certified and will spend their first six months reviewing county operations.
The study commission will then decide whether another form of government should be investigated. They will have three more months to decide if an optional form is best or if a new form, called home rule, should be created.
If they chose home rule, the study commission will have nine months to write a county charter.
Any recommendations will ultimately go back to voters for approval in the next general election.