MERCER, Pa. -- The new county elections director has 37 years of experience in educational administration, a background he hopes will serve him well in taking over the troubled Registration and Election Office.
Mercer County commissioners gave formal approval Thursday to hiring Thomas Rookey at $34,366 per year.
He replaces Jim Bennington, who resigned after a disastrous Nov. 2 general election that left many voters unable to cast ballots because of machine breakdowns and thousands of votes lost.
"We need to win back the confidence of the voters," Rookey said.
He has already begun studying state election law and said he looks upon his new job as a challenge. He brings years of administering and developing projects, including running campuses where he supervised hundreds of people. Rookey said he applied for the post because he was looking for a challenge and an opportunity to make a significant contribution to his community.
Rookey, 60, served as chief executive officer of Penn State Shenango campus from 2002 to 2005, retiring earlier this year. He also served as CEO of a Georgia school, and held administrative and teaching positions in other colleges, spending most of his career in Pennsylvania.
He earned his bachelor's in sociology at Buffalo State, a master's in research and design from Bucknell University and a doctorate in statistics and measurement at Lehigh University.
He is a member of the Rotary, Chamber of Commerce board of directors, Shenango Valley Industrial Development Corp., Women's Shelter Board, Salvation Army Board and Knights of Columbus.
He and his wife, Roseann, have three grown children.
Rookey will start his new job Monday.