The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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April 16, 2014

Beader plans to resign, just not yet

Wants to vote on I-80/Rt. 19 project

MERCER COUNTY — Democratic Mercer County Commissioner Brian Beader acknowledges that he intends to resign, but said nothing will happen until after he meets privately with the county’s judges next Thursday.

“It’s my intention to resign, but I have not resigned yet. I haven’t set a hard and fast time frame and I won’t until after I speak with the judges. I want to ensure there is a smooth transition and that there are no gaps,” the 10-year veteran commissioner said.

County judges by county law must appoint another Democrat to finish the remainder of Beader’s term, which expires at the end of 2015.

Beader, who recently came under fire for continuing to work as an electrician while holding public office, said a new job offer is behind his decision to resign. The job, he said, will allow him to work full-time in the construction industry and will require out-of-state travel.

He said criticism about his job as an electrician didn’t bother him. “I kept my job in the private sector because I really don’t believe our forefathers intended for anyone to hold a lifetime job in government. I’m going to start winding down in the proper fashion,” he said.

“It’s construction so I never know where or for what length of time and that makes it difficult to attend meetings,” he said. Beader said earlier this year he keeps up with county business by coming in to the courthouse at night and on weekends and handles most communication by email. He attends the twice-a-month commissioners meetings on Thursday mornings and plans to be at the next meeting on April 24.

“You won’t see anything happen on that day either,” he said.

He said he had no suggestions about who he would like to see take his position. “The judges have done a fabulous job in the past. I would say if they could resurrect the late Kenny Seaman that would be a great choice. He was a great man,” he said.

His primary concern, he said, is that work proceeds on having sewers installed at the Interstate 80 and Route 19 interchange. “I campaigned on that. I’ve said all along that that was my goal. And while we have a verbal agreement to donate a parcel of land to make sure that project goes forward, we haven’t voted on that yet. And I believe my vote is critical. I won’t leave until I make sure the process doesn’t go backwards,” he said.

Commissioner Matt McConnell, who publicly criticized Beader for being absent from his commissioner job, said he’s been frustrated with him for months, but is still sorry to see him go.

“I won’t be a Beader-basher. I will miss Brian’s experience and the history that he brought to the table about the way some deals in the past were structured. It’s experience that’s walking out the door and I do respect him for his service to the county,” McConnell said.

“I wish he could have been more active, but I certainly wish him well,” he said.

McConnell said he didn’t believe the purchase of the land at the Interstate 80 and Route 19 interchange was a good decision, but said he has no intention of standing in the way of intentions to donate a parcel of land to the sewer authority.

“We can bring it up immediately and vote on it if that’s what he’s worried about,” he said.

Mercer County Democratic Chairman Charles “Chaz” Rice said he met Tuesday with President Judge Thomas Dobson to discuss the process for replacing Beader. “My phone has been ringing off the hook with people who want the appointment,” he said.

The ultimate decision will be up to Dobson, Rice said, but all the judges will be included in discussions. Rice said the committee would likely make three recommendations.

“But everything right now is hinging on his resignation. We don’t have that yet. Once we have it, then the clock will start ticking,” Rice said.

Commissioners earn $63,845 a year, along with another $23,000 in health care, retirement, Social Security and worker’s compensation benefits.

Commissioner Chairman John Lechner said Beader notified him of his intention to resign, but attached no timeline to the decision. He added that he is confident the judges will move quickly once Beader resigns.

“Brian’s intelligent and he offers quite a bit of insight into issues. His feedback and opinions will be missed. But it will be my job to ensure that county government continues to flow smoothly, regardless of who is appointed,” Lechner said.

Lechner’s term also expires at the end of 2015 but he has not made a decision about whether he intends to run again, he said.

Beader also made news last summer when he was arrested for drunken driving after the Small Ships Revue in downtown Sharon. He was given accelerated rehabilitative disposition because it was his first offense and lost his driving privileges for 60 days, along with paying the associated fines and court costs.

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