Montgomery County gets new vice chair in Lawrence, seeks to fill other vacant positions

By Kaitlyn Foti
Original Article

COURTHOUSE >> Eight days after being appointed to the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, Ken Lawrence Jr. was voted in as the board’s vice chairman.

The move was motioned for by Chairwoman Val Arkoosh and seconded by Lawrence, before passing with a 3-0 vote.

“His commitment to a set of good government principles that have been how we approached running this commission from the beginning, I thought that all of those attributes collectively made him appropriate to be nominated as vice chair,” Arkoosh said.

Minority Republican Commissioner Joe Gale said he did not nominate himself for the position of vice chair, despite having spent more time on the board than Lawrence, because he “knew what the outcome would be.”

“In all honestly, I’m not seeking special titles, that’s not why I’m serving as commissioner,” Gale said. “So I felt like there was no need to have a protest vote in the election for vice chair.”

Lawrence, who stated that he will leave his position as a vice president at Temple University on March 15, listed his qualifications for the vice chairmanship, including his seat on the SEPTA Board.

“I’ve been a SEPTA Board representative for the county, I’m on my second term for that, so I’m very familiar with the infrastructure and transportation needs,” Lawrence said. “While I am learning more and more about the county every day I feel that I am qualified and I appreciate my colleague’s support.”

While the Thursday morning meeting marked the first time Lawrence sat in the seat formerly left vacant by Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a few other spots are now or soon to be vacant in county administration.

Press Secretary Jessica Willingham left the county Wednesday to take a position with the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board, and Thursday was the last day for the director of commerce for the county, Carolina DiGiorgio, who is leaving for a Philadelphia nonprofit.

County Solicitor Ray McGarry is also on his way out, after five years with the county. His final day will be Feb. 10. McGarry received an emotional farewell speech from Arkoosh during Thursday’s meeting.

“Ray McGarry is not your run of the mill lawyer,” Arkoosh said. “To his colleagues on the eighth floor he was a place to turn in a crisis. He quickly gets to the heart of an issue and provides a thoughtful approach to solving the problem.”

The positions of press secretary, county solicitor and director of commerce are all listed on the county’s website, under employment opportunities.

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