Home > Regional > Rep. Josh Shapiro to Run for County Commissioner, Eyes Chairman’s Seat

Rep. Josh Shapiro to Run for County Commissioner, Eyes Chairman’s Seat

February 7, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

By Linda Finarelli
The Public Spirit/Globe Times Chronicle

State Rep. Josh Shapiro is aiming to swap his seat in the Statehouse for one on the board of the Montgomery County Commissioners — his ultimate goal being the chairman’s seat.

The Democrat representing the 153rd District said in an interview last week he would run for county commissioner, now that Montgomery County Commissioners Vice Chairman Joseph M. Hoeffel III has announced he will not seek re-election.

Shapiro will run on the Democratic ticket with Whitemarsh Township Supervisor Leslie Richards.

“There are great challenges facing our county,” Shapiro said when asked why he was entering the commissioners race. “I look forward to addressing them, creating more jobs and more economic opportunities … reforming county government, streamlining its processes.

“I think I have the experience and knowhow to do just that.”

Shapiro said he and Richards will bring “fresh eyes to problems that have existed for many years,” questioning the need for 50 departments and the existing county government structure.

Saying there are “a number of ways to modernize and streamline government,” Shapiro said one way would be to “make better use of technology to address delivering services” to reduce overlap.

“There will be a commitment to job growth and economic development under a Shapiro/Richards administration,” he said.

Noting Montgomery County is the wealthiest county in the state and its proximity to Philadelphia, he termed it “an important regional hub.”

The county can offer a number of opportunities and the infrastructure necessary to potential employers and he would offer a “more aggressive” approach to attracting companies to the county and creating economic opportunities, he said.

Now serving his seventh year in the House, having just been re-elected to a fourth term, Shapiro said serving the county would be “different” from serving in the House, where he is one of 203 voices.

“As one of three voices and hopefully chairman of the three-member [county] board, I would have a direct impact on the lives of people in our county,” Shapiro said, adding he was “confident the Democrats will win two seats” on the board.

He said he “will have the support of Republicans and independents” in running for commissioner, referencing his “track record.”

His House district has 52 percent registered Democrats, but he received 70 percent of the vote in the last election, meaning a number of Republicans and independents voted for him, he said.

Asked how he felt he could work with at least one, and possibly two Republicans on the county board, which has become extremely contentious in its current form, Shapiro again pointed to his “proven track record of working in a bipartisan manner in government.”

Shapiro, who served five years as chief of staff and counsel to Hoeffel when Hoeffel held the 13th U.S. Congressional District seat, had previously said he would not run against Hoeffel, but after Hoeffel announced he will not seek re-election, “I decided to jump in,” he said.

He was “encouraged by a lot of people to look at [running for the county seat], but “at the end of the day it was a decision I made with my wife and family and a few trusted advisors,” Shapiro said. He made the decision “in the last several days,” he said Monday.

For the time being, Shapiro said, “I have a job to do in the Statehouse, and I intend to continue to do that.”

Confidant he and Richards will receive the party’s endorsement at the Democratic Convention Feb. 17, Shapiro said he would run a positive campaign, while adding “you have to draw contrasts.”

“Ultimately our success will depend in large measure on our vision and we will do that in a positive way,” he said.

Republished with the permission of The Public Spirit/Globe Times Chronicle

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