The three finalists the Luzerne County Council will consider for its top manager job: Jeffrey D. Beck, David W. Johnston and C. David Pedri.
The council had not reached a decision on if or when the names of finalists would be publicly released, but a source furnished the names on the condition of anonymity, arguing the public has a right to the information at the finalist stage.
Pedri, of Butler Township, is chief county solicitor and has been serving as acting county manager since January. He had publicly disclosed he was seeking the permanent manager position, which was vacated by Robert Lawton’s resignation the end of 2015.
Beck, of Mountain Top, owned a cleaning franchise company and previously had served as president and board director of Advanta Bank Corp.
Johnston has worked as city manager of Maple Valley, Washington, since 2009.
The council, which has the final say, plans to conduct interviews the first week of May. The three finalists were submitted by a citizen manager search committee required by the county’s home rule charter.
“I look forward to meeting the candidates,” said council Chairwoman Linda McClosky Houck.
The applicants submitted resumes and lengthy narratives about their experience in several areas that have been forwarded to the council.
A synopsis of their background, according to their submissions:
• Beck has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Ursinus College and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Delaware.
He was assistant vice president of corporate development at the Wilmington Trust Co., in Wilmington, Delaware, from 1970 to 1980, and vice president of asset/liability management at the Fidelity Bank/Industrial Valley Bank & Trust Co. in Philadelphia from 1980 to 1986.
Beck started working at Advanta Corp./Advanta National Bank in 1986. He advanced to president and board director overseeing the general operation of the bank, a business credit card provider with approximately $3 billion in managed assets and a staff of around 750.
After retiring from that position in 2004, Beck was president and owner of Stratus Building Solutions of Delmarva, which developed more than 30 commercial cleaning franchise operations in Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. He sold that business in 2013.
Beck said he has been a vacationer/property owner in Nuangola since the late 1980s and is now a full-time resident and property owner.
He said his financial background, including training as a chartered financial analyst, and experience solving complex financial issues would benefit the county. He pointed to an “unusually broad” mix of managerial responsibilities overseeing financial groups, information technology, operations, human resources, facilities, marketing, risk management and his own company.
Beck also stressed he is “free to focus solely on what is best for the residents of Luzerne County” because he is politically independent and not beholden to a party group or individual.
“I care about the county and its residents, and we deserve better, a lot better,” Beck said Tuesday. “I have the managerial and leadership experience and the breadth and depth of financial training and experience to get things turned around.”
• Johnston has a bachelor’s degree in American studies, with concentrations in communications and economics, from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree in public affairs, with a concentration in urban and regional planning, from Indiana University.
He held several positions in Indiana in his early career from 1986 to 1997, including director of the state transportation planning office and the state office of traffic safety in Indianapolis, and administrative director of Indiana Health Centers, Inc.
Johnston worked as village administrator of Coal City, Illinois, from 1997 to 2000, town manager of Westfield, Indiana, from 2000 to 2003, village administrator of Rantoul, Illinois, from 2004 to 2008 and as a public management consultant from 2008 to 2009.
In his current position as Maple Valley city manager, Johnston leads a team of 45 full-time and 35 seasonal employees, oversees an annual budget of $29 million and handles day-to-day operations, including service contracts for police, legal, court, jail, animal control and engineering services.
Johnston pointed to his success maintaining an “open, responsive and proactive connection” between the city and public, and optimizing services “while reducing employee stress stemming from a politically tense environment.”
He also developed partnerships with business and industry leaders to enhance the city’s “prominence and visibility” and help transform the city’s “previously marginal reputation with the development community.” This initiative led to increased development and the city’s receipt of eight designations as a desired place to live, work and conduct business.
Johnston said Tuesday he prides himself on earning and keeping public trust as a public servant and is interested in positions that “provide unique professional challenges.”
“Luzerne County is trying to balance between being a wonderful service provider to its citizens and at the same time dealing with some tough budget issues,” Johnston said.
• Pedri has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Saint Joseph’s University and a law degree from the Temple University School of Law.
He worked as an assistant district attorney and deputy district attorney from 2004 to 2012, which included duties managing a staff of more than 60 employees, including assistant district attorneys, support staff and detectives.
Pedri also was sole practitioner of the Pedri Law Office LLC in Hazleton from 2012 to 2013, was hired as chief county solicitor in May 2013 and also has been teaching law courses at Misericordia University’s Hazleton site as an adjunct faculty member.
He said his transition to acting county manager has been “smooth and unimpeded” because his work as chief solicitor required him to be involved in administrative decisions. Pedri said he is “acutely aware” of the intricacies of the county’s home rule charter, the many problems facing the county and the “enormity and complexity” of the county’s debt.
He cited his success helping the county through last year’s state funding delay crisis, streamlining the solicitor’s office, carrying out a massive debt restructuring and establishing 90-day goals that hold departments responsible.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.