Thursday, March 29, 2018
By Ed Runyan
Rebecca Gerson starts her new job as Trumbull County administrator April 9, but she wasted no time Wednesday in explaining her qualifications and how she plans to handle her many new duties.
Moments after the county commissioners voted 2-1 to hire her, she stood up and talked about her background as a lawyer and ability to “multitask.”
She’s been a lawyer nearly 25 years, was an assistant Mahoning County prosecutor, part-time judge and is deputy Youngstown law director.
“I pride myself on my ability to multitask and to prioritize,” she said, addressing questions she received Tuesday morning from Commissioner Frank Fuda, who voted against hiring her.
Fuda, who said he doesn’t think the county should spend $85,000 annually for her salary plus benefits because it’s not needed, raised questions about how Gerson will handle what are are essentially two full-time jobs.
In addition to administrator for the commissioners, she will be administrator for the county’s transit system, Trumbull Transit, and county purchasing director.
“One of the first things I’m going to do is analyze the transit board to see exactly what needs to be done to make sure the county is in complete compliance with everything,” she said.
She has already read a financial report and recommendations to Trumbull Transit by the Federal Transit Administration and believes she can be successful as its director and work well with county department heads and elected officials.
Commissioners Mauro Cantalamessa and Dan Polivka, who voted for her hiring, and Human Resources Director Richard Jackson touted Gerson’s skill set, such as her experience in handling union grievances.
Polivka said research shows the county paid $121,000 in 2017 to hire lawyers to handle grievances.
“She does this day in and day out in Youngstown,” Polivka said, suggesting that she might be able to handle part of that workload here and save the county money.
Cantalamessa said commissioners in Portage and Geauga counties say an administrator “streamlines the administrative process” and allows them to avoid violating the state’s open meetings laws that prohibit the commissioners from meeting in private to discuss county business.