By Layla A. Jones
Montgomery County appointed Ken Lawrence to the post of County Commissioner, filling the seat left vacant by now-Attorney General Josh Shapiro and making Lawrence the county’s first African-American County Commissioner, according to a news release.
“I’ve been African American all my life so it’s not a new thing for me,” Lawrence said. “My parents always raised me to believe I could do anything I wanted to do.”
Lawrence added, though, that if his presence on Montgomery County’s three-person commission serves as inspiration to someone else, “I think that’s a good thing.”
Lawrence, currently serving as vice president for alumni affairs at Temple University, will finish Shapiro’s term and serve as county commissioner through 2019.
“I was looking for someone with many if not all of the attributes that Ken possesses,” said Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners.
She cited Lawrence’s experience in the public and private sectors and his work as an entrepreneur, adding “I was very impressed by Ken’s high ethical standards.”
Lawrence, 45, has lived in Montgomery County since 1984 and attended Montgomery County Community College before receiving his bachelor’s in political science from Temple University. In his professional career, Lawrence has worked at Merck & Company as a communications professional, and launched his own consulting firm, Public Affairs Strategies.
He will step down from his Temple post so he can be dedicated to his new role as county commissioner. Lawrence is also one of the Montgomery County representatives to the SEPTA board, a role he will hold during his tenure as commissioner.
Lawrence and Arkoosh said the commission’s priorities for the new year are transportation and infrastructure, business recruitment and economic development, and support of Montgomery County Community College.
As the county elects its first Black commissioner, Arkoosh said the demographics of the area are expanding. She said the county is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse and also more democratic.
Voter registration demographics for Montgomery County show that while the number of registered Democrats in the county has risen by about 14,000 since 2011, the number of registered Republicans has relatively stayed the same for the same time period.
“My priority is to make sure Montgomery County continues to be a great place for people,” to work and live,” Lawrence said.