Emo­tional good­bye at Shapiro’s last meet­ing

The Boyertown Area Times - - COMMUNITY - By Kait­lyn Foti kfoti@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @kait­lyn­foti on Twit­ter

NOR­RIS­TOWN » Josh Shapiro is leav­ing and county em­ploy­ees and long­time friends of the At­tor­ney Gen­eral-elect lined up to sing his praises at the Mont­gomery County com­mis­sioner’s last meet­ing.

For the fi­nal hour of the board’s first meet­ing of the year, Shapiro’s county ca­reer flashed be­fore his eyes as the Ghost of Ad­min­is­tra­tions Past — Bruce L. Cas­tor Jr. — re­turned to the Nor­ris­town board room to give a speech about his for­mer com­mis­sioner col­league.

“Josh Shapiro was the best county com­mis­sioner we could have pos­si­bly had at that time and that in­cluded my­self. And for those of you who know me, how big a state­ment that is,” Cas­tor joked. “Now the big­ger ques­tion is, will he be as good an at­tor­ney gen­eral as I was?”

In Shapiro’s own part­ing words, he looked back fondly on the five years he spent, mostly as chair­man of the board of com­mis­sion­ers, with Cas­tor, for­mer com­mis­sioner Les­lie Richards, and now Chair­woman Val Arkoosh. He spoke broadly about pub­lic ser­vice and acutely about the pub­lic ser­vants in Mont­gomery County.

“We fig­ure things out and we got things done and they de­serve so much credit,” Shapiro said of the county staff. “Work­ing with them over these last five years has led to the in­cred­i­ble ful­fill­ment I feel about my time here.”

Oth­ers who spoke of Shapiro’s lead­er­ship in Mont­gomery County in­cluded a num­ber of depart­ment heads through­out the county, em­ploy­ees who had worked with Shapiro through sev­eral jobs and a video mes­sage from Richards, who is now the state’s sec­re­tary of trans­porta­tion.

“The laugh­ter is al­ways gen­uine, the friend­ship is the real deal and my grat­i­tude is ab­so­lutely heart­felt,” Richards said of her re­la­tion­ship with Shapiro. “The fact that our per­sonal his­tory as well as our pro­fes­sional his­tory will be for­ever linked is some­thing that I’m even more proud of.”

Be­fore the pa­rade of well-wish­ers stood at the podium, Arkoosh gave an emo­tional speech about her time serv­ing with Shapiro, first on his 2011 tran­si­tion team and then as his fel­low com­mis­sioner when she was ap­pointed to re­place Richards.

“Those times have been bal­anced by exemplary gra­cious­ness like the two weeks you spent back in 2015 prac­tic­ing how to pro­nounce Arkoosh over and over again,” she said, paus­ing to com­pose her­self as she welled up with emo­tion.

The Mont­gomery County team gifted Shapiro with the gavel he held, but never used, as chair­man, and the plunger box used to light the Christ­mas tree out-

side the court­house. Shapiro asked that such a box be de­signed for the light­ing cer­e­monies, per­haps, be­cause even for a man of Jewish faith, he knows how to keep Christ­mas well.

“I re­ally wanted to do a Christ­mas tree, Meno­rah, Ki­nara thing the first year, and they thought I was crazy and I was like I re­ally want to do this. And then I found out we had a Christ­mas tree farm,” Shapiro re­called re­cently.

“That’s not quite what it is, it’s called the prison,” County Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer Lau­ren Lam­brugo in­ter­jected.

“Well they have Christ­mas trees there. I said I re­ally want to go cut a tree down, I had never done that be­fore. Not too many Jewish guys have got­ten to cut down Christ­mas trees,” he went on.

Af­ter re­count­ing many mem­o­ries with staff and con­stituents, but be­fore his fi­nal meet­ing as com­mis­sioner ad­journed, At­tor­ney Gen­eral-elect Shapiro, had plenty to say about his time in Mont­gomery County.

“We’ve proven that we can get things done. Now maybe that’s the unique na­ture that there’s just three of us that have to find con­sen­sus, but I ac­tu­ally think that it has more to do with the fact that this is where the rub­ber meets the road, and we have ded­i­cated pub­lic ser­vants who want to get the job done,” he said. “My hope for the fu­ture is that this board re­mem­bers the awe­some power that it has to do good, in mak­ing the lives of peo­ple of Mont­gomery County bet­ter.”

Shapiro will re­sign from his post as com­mis­sioner af­fec­tive Jan. 16, one day ahead of be­ing sworn in as Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral. He will not be leav­ing the county be­hind, how­ever. He plans to stay in his home in Abing­ton and travel be­tween the town­ship and Har­ris­burg.

“I so look for­ward to our paths cross­ing again and again and again,” he said in clos­ing.

KAIT­LYN FOTI — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Mont­gomery County Com­mis­sion­ers said their good­byes to Vice Chair­man Josh Shapiro, Thurs­day, Jan. 5, 2017. Shapiro will be sworn in as Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral on Jan 17.

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