The Boyertown Area Times

Judges fill vacant seat

- By Mike Urban murban@readingeag­

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.

 ?? PHOTO COURTESY OF BERKS COUNTY ?? Lucine E. Sihelnik, who will serve as Berks County’s newest commission­er.
PHOTO COURTESY OF BERKS COUNTY Lucine E. Sihelnik, who will serve as Berks County’s newest commission­er.

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