The Citizens' Voice

County election board appoints chair

Board now back up to five members.

- BY ERIC MARK STAFF WRITER

The Luzerne County Board of Elections appointed Denise Williams as chairwoman of the board on Wednesday.

The election board, which certifies the results of county elections, now has a full complement of five members.

Board members Missy Thomas, Audrey Serniak, Richard Nardone and Kathryn Roth voted unanimousl­y to appoint Williams as chair.

The board publicly interviewe­d four applicants for the chairperso­n position, but Williams was the only one nominated.

Not everyone approved of the board’s choice.

During public comment, county Councilman Stephen J. Urban and several citizens suggested Williams would not be the best person to lead the board, since she had herself criticized county officials in public comment at previous board meetings.

Also, Williams is head of Fair Districts Pa-luzerne County, a citizens group devoted to ending the practice of gerrymande­ring, in which legislativ­e districts are redrawn to benefit one political party.

Williams said she would resign her position with Fair Districts if needed in order to serve as election board chair.

Also, Serniak said she is a member of Fair Districts, which she described as a nonpartisa­n group.

Williams said she was humbled by her appointmen­t. It will be “an honor to serve all citizens of Luzerne County,” she said.

In her applicatio­n to serve as election board chair, Williams said her “organizati­onal skills, deep sense of responsibi­lity to election integrity and strong work ethic would be helpful in this role.”

Williams is co-coordinato­r of religious education at St. Therese’s Church in Shavertown, according to her resume.

DA question

Also, the election board did not discuss the question of whether the office of county district attorney should be added to the November election ballot.

That issue will be placed on the agenda for the board’s next meeting on April 28.

Legal opinions differ as to whether state legislatio­n regarding filling a vacancy in the district attorney position requires a special election if a district attorney resigns in the first half of a four-year term.

Stefanie Salavantis, who served as county district attorney for more than nine years, resigned last month to run for county judge.

Sam Sanguedolc­e, longtime first assistant to Salavantis, was appointed district attorney, as stipulated in the recent state legislatio­n.

Salavantis was in the second year of a four-year term that was set to expire at the end of 2023.

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