The Boyertown Area Times
Judges fill vacant seat
A leadership change is coming to Berks County, as former City Councilwoman Lucine E. Sihelnik has been appointed to serve as the county’s newest commissioner, Berks officials announced Tuesday, Feb. 14.
Her appointment follows the resignation of Kevin Barnhardt, who left the commissioner’s position to become chief operations officer for the county.
Sihelnik was selected by the county’s board of judges, who interviewed 12 of 22 applicants seeking to complete Barnhardt’s unexpired term.
Sihelnik, 42, of Reading will begin after she is sworn in during a ceremony Tuesday afternoon.
She does not intend to run for the position, which is on the ballot this year, county officials said in a press release. Her term will expire upon the installment of the next elected commissioner in January.
“It is an honor to be selected, and I’m very much looking forward to serving with my fellow commissioners and continuing the good work on behalf of the county,” Sihelnik said in the press release. “I think serving as a county commissioner is the ultimate call to public service and am honored to have the opportunity to serve our community in that capacity.”
Interested applicants had to be registered voters in Berks and members of the Democratic party, as Barnhardt is. They were required to submit a resume of their full educational background and work experience along with a statement of their goals and objectives as county commissioner if selected for appointment.
All three commissioner positions are up for election this year. Two Democrats and two Republicans will be chosen by voters in the primary election to move onto the general election in the fall, where the top three vote-getters will win seats.
Barnhardt had served as a commissioner since 2008, the lone Democrat on the three-member board during that span. He was set to run for reelection this year but instead accepted the appointed post of chief operations officer.
Spring Township Supervisor Jess Royer is the only Democrat to have formally announced his intention to run for commissioner.
“The board of judges is appreciative of all the applicants who were willing to step into this important role and work for the good of the county,” President Judge M. Theresa Johnson said.
“We wanted to select a candidate who was very involved in serving the community but was not planning to run in the upcoming election since we believe it is the right of the voters to choose their next county commissioner,” she said.
Sihelnik comes to the position after many years of public service. She served as a councilwoman for District 1 from 2018 to 2021, spending the last two years as vice president.
She is the co-founder of Great American Creamery on Penn Street and previously served as the interim executive director and food systems director for ReDesign Reading Community Development Corporation.
She currently serves as an Alvernia University trustee, on The Friends of the Reading Hospital Board, and on the Reading Muhlenberg Career and Technology Center Occupational Advisory Committee.