Luzerne County Deputy Election Director Emily Cook has been appointed acting election director, county Manager Romilda Crocamo announced Monday evening.
In turn, bureau Election Operations Director Steve Hahn has been named acting deputy election director, Crocamo said.
The reorganization was prompted by prior election director Eryn Harvey’s resignation on Friday after a year in the oversight position.
Crocamo said she met with Cook and Hahn, and the bureau is working on creating more efficient and effective procedures, increasing election security and transparency and maintaining “as much stability within the bureau as possible during the upcoming election seasons.”
Cook already has begun to adjust planned bureau workflow to address the “urgent short-staffing issues we are facing,” Crocamo said in the communication to council.
The bureau is down two administrative assistants, she said. Administrative assistants Kezia Hanley and Ysmely Henriquez both resigned last month.
The county has advertised the election administrative assistant positions at $30,277 annually, with applications due Tuesday (Feb. 13), according to the posting under the human resources “career opportunities” section at luzernecounty.org.
Also posted on the site are seasonal election worker positions paying $20 per hour. Feb. 22 is the application deadline for those temporary positions.
“Our goal is to bring in enough help that we will not need as much daytime assistance from other county departments,” Crocamo said.
Cook was hired as deputy in August and also previously filled the deputy role on an interim basis. She started working for the county as an administrative assistant in the election bureau in September 2021 and was promoted to election operations director in March 2022.
Hahn was promoted to the election operations director position at the end of September. He started his county employment in January 2022 as an assessment office field investigator. Hahn’s prior employment included work as the Butler Township manager.
Crocamo said she does not plan to start seeking a new permanent election director until after the April 23 primary election.
Under council’s administrative code, the county manager has final say on selecting the election director but must seek input from the five-citizen, volunteer election board.
For example, before Harvey was hired in February 2023, then-acting county manager Brian Swetz met with the election board in executive session for approximately 15 minutes to brief board members on the hiring plan.
Harvey is the county’s fourth non-interim election director since Marissa Crispell resigned as director in September 2019 following criticism over her participation in vendor-funded advisory board trips.
Crispell’s successor, Shelby Watchilla, left for another position in December 2020, after a year in the position. Bob Morgan, the next director, departed after six months on the job, also to accept employment outside county government. Michael Susek was hired in December 2021 and left in August 2022 for another career opportunity.
Harvey said she was leaving the position to pursue other opportunities.
In other updates, Crocamo said Cook and her staff will be finishing primary election candidate nomination paperwork acceptance this week and subsequently start ballot-proofing for the primary.
Weekly public election calendar updates will restart on Feb. 16, Crocamo said. The processing of incoming voter registration and mail ballot applications is ongoing, and poll worker training letters will go out this week to prepare workers for the upcoming primary, she said.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.