‘With authority does come responsibility’: These Lebanon-area officials took oath of office

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Lebanon city and county officials capped off what was a fairly contentious local election cycle with the swearing-in of newly elected officials Thursday. 

Those who won their races for common pleas court judge, Lebanon City Council and the Lebanon County Board of Commissioners were sworn in, among some of the county row offices. 

During the primary in 2019, the commissioners race became unexpectedly heated after the county GOP chose to endorse newcomer Matt Shirk over incumbent Bill Ames, eventually leading to Shirk filing a lawsuit over the website “ShadyShirk.com.” Ames beat Shirk in the primary and won a seat on the Board of Commissioners for what he has said will be his last term. 

During the general election, it was the Lebanon City Council’s turn to be under the spotlight. A 10-vote lead for Republican Andrew Zidik in the unofficial count on election night turned into a 3-vote deficit to Democrat Amy Keller after some outstanding absentee ballots were counted. 

The shift in the vote total led to Zidik and county GOP committee chairperson Casey Long to demand the Board of Elections hold a recount. After the candidates, party officials and several reporters reviewed the ballots in question, Zidik dropped his bid for a recount. 

Keller alluded to the ordeal on Thursday in a speech after she was sworn in. 

“We proved that every vote really does count,” she said. 

Republicans Chris Miller and Richard Wertz, an incumbent, were also sworn in Thursday. Both said they expected it to be an exciting time to serve on council in Lebanon.

Mother Mary Kisner, of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, urged those being sworn in to act so that “human rights may be safeguarded and justice served.”

Judge John Tylwalk warned the elected officials that, sometimes, they would have to make tough choices in the face of criticism.  

“You are going to find that with authority does come responsibility,” Tylwalk said. “Responsibility sometimes requires you to to make a difficult decision.”

Background on Election results: Election 2019: Commissioners re-elected, Lebanon City Council race separated by 10 votes

Who was sworn in?

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Court of Common Pleas: Judges Bradford Charles and Charles Jones

Magisterial District Judge: Maria M. Dissinger

County Commissioners: Bob Phillips, Bill Ames, Jo Ellen Litz

Coroner: Dr. Jeffrey Yocum

Treasurer: Sallie Neuin

Prothonotary: Barbara Smith

Controller: Robert Mettley

Recorder of Deeds: Dawn Blauch

Lebanon City Council: Christopher Miller, Richard Wertz, Amy Keller

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