York County's new elected officials share goals for first year in office

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
Ron Smith talks with Mack Johnson, left, while waiting for the results to be posted at the York County GOP watch party at Wisehaven, Tuesday, November 5, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

York County voters went to the polls Nov. 5 and elected five newcomers and three incumbents to manage the county's day-to-day affairs.

Looking ahead to their first year in office, The York Dispatch reached out to each of the five new county officials to ask about their first-year priorities and plans.

"We have to address, first and foremost, the elections issue we experienced in November," said Republican Ron Smith, who will begin his first term on the York County Board of Commissioners on Monday, Jan. 6.

"That’s going to be first on the list," Smith said.

Smith, a small business owner and longtime Dallastown borough councilman, said the county is in the process of figuring out how many ballot-scanning machines should be at each polling place for the April 28 presidential primary and then the Nov. 3 General Election.

The county debuted the new machines on Nov. 5 and placed one scanner at each polling place. In some voting precincts, one scanner was not enough, leading to long lines and frustrated voters. There were also issues with ballots being printed on the wrong size paper.

The county will be hiring a new director of elections and voter registration to replace outgoing director Nikki Suchanic, whose last day is Friday, Jan. 3.

Suchanic announced her resignation in November, citing issues in her personal life.

Smith said his other priority as a commissioner will be finding a new director for the York County 911 Center and continuing to improve operations there, as well as growing the county's tax base and increasing property values by encouraging economic development. 

He has no plans to make any staffing changes, he said.

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Republican Julie Wheeler, who will also begin her first term on the Board of Commissioners on Monday, could not be reached for comment.

Wheeler and Smith will join York County Commissioner Doug Hoke, a Democrat in his fourth term, on the Board of Commissioners.

Row officers: Voters also elected three new row officers to county office, all of whom will be sworn in Friday, Jan. 3.

Republican Bryan Tate will take over as Register of Wills/Clerk of Orphans' Court.

Bryan Tate, a Republican candidate for York County Register of Wills, meets with voters outside the Manchester Township polling place Tuesday, May 21. Tina Locurto photo

Tate, a community consultant specializing in estate planning and civic endowments, said he plans to continue building relationships with the York County Estate Planning Council and Leave a Legacy York County, both programs of the York County Bar Association.

Tate doesn't plan to make any staffing changes at the county office, he said.

"The two chief deputies, Kim McPherson and Becky Foust, are incredibly respected by our legal community, and the entire team is well respected for the great customer service it provides to members of our community," he said.

Republican Allison Blew, a former teacher and former vice chairwoman of the York County Republican Committee, will take over as prothonotary, the chief clerk of the York County Court of Common Pleas' civil division.

Blew said that since she was elected Nov. 5, she's spent several days at the office shadowing outgoing Prothonotary Pam Lee and familiarizing herself with the staff.

"The deputy, Billie Jo Bones, has been there for 30 years, and her institutional knowledge is invaluable," Blew said, adding that she has no plans to make any staff changes when she takes over.

She said her goals for her first year in office are to continue providing excellent customer service and to run the department with fiscal responsibility.

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Republican Dan Byrnes, son of outgoing York County Commissioner Susan Byrnes, will take over as Clerk of Courts, chief clerk for the York County Court of Common Pleas' criminal division.

Byrnes, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, could not be reached for comment.

York County Treasurer Barbara Bair, a Republican, will be sworn in for her sixth term Monday.

York County Sheriff Rich Keuerleber, also a Republican, will be sworn for his fourth term Friday.

York County Prothonotary candidate Allison Blew hugs her daughter Lydia, 8, as Blew's family joins her at the Windsor Township Municipal Center before she voted on Election Day Tuesday, November 5, 2019. Her husband Nate, father-in-law Russ and daughter Katie, 4, also met her at the poll. Bill Kalina photo