SUNBURY – A surprise to some people in Northumberland County, as current county Commissioner Chairman Rick Shoch has announced he will not run for re-election next year. Shoch made the announcement in a news release Monday, and says he made the decision in October.
On WKOK’s On The Mark, Shoch had plenty to say about ongoing “political nonsense” in the county, citing it as a big reason in his decision, “Having gone through four years of kind of the nonsense that’s involved in Northumberland County politics and having fought against that, I was somewhat warn down, and it takes a lot of time and energy away from other things in your life, particularly your family.”
Shoch says he and fellow Commissioner Sam Schiccatano have worked to change the culture of county government, but he says some of the old culture remains, “It has gone down significantly, but there’s still some amount of it there, because there’s still an element, and a contingent…sort of a camp in Northumberland County that wants to go back to the old way of doing things.”
Shoch says a lot of the “political smearing” in the county comes about when dealing with taxpayer money, “The people who are lining up to help them do that, have been the same people who have been helping them for decades, and they’re showing you where they stand. That’s the real kind of battle or struggle going on in Northumberland County right now is are we going to get away from that.”
Shoch thanked supporters and Schiccatano for “guiding our county in the new direction a majority of us, as citizens, have chosen for our future.” He says should Schiccatano decide to seek re-election, Shoch says he and Schiccatano identified “an excellent running mate” for him.
Shoch full letter:
AN OPEN LETTER TO NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY CITIZENS
FROM NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY COMMISSIONER RICHARD SHOCH
I am today officially announcing that I will not be running for re-election as a Northumberland County Commissioner in 2019. I want to sincerely thank the citizens of Northumberland County for having elected me to two terms as a Commissioner. I will always consider it a great honor that so many of you supported me and entrusted me, and my fellow Commissioner Sam Schiccatano, to guide our County in the new direction that a majority of us, as citizens, have chosen for our future.
During my first term in office, I tried to bring to your attention the disfunction and waste that had dominated our county government for decades. During my second term in office, Commissioner Schiccatano and I have worked to change the culture of Northumberland County government, from the way we address the issues confronting our County, to the standard we expect from our employees who serve you. We have striven to be good stewards of your hard-earned tax dollars and have built trusting and cooperative relationships with the other counties in our region that will be crucial to our collective success in the future. We have sought to hire and retain the most qualified, knowledgeable employees to provide your county services, and we have done so without regard to political or personal affiliation.
During my two terms as a Commissioner, I have had the pleasure of working with many dedicated employees, row officers and judges who have shared the vision you asked us to make a reality. Their cooperation and dedication helped make that vision a reality in so many aspects of how our County is now addressing our challenges and serving our citizens. I am proud to have served with them and wish them success in continuing to serve you.
However, over the past few years, I have struggled to reconcile the time and energy needed to manage the County and implement much-needed changes with the time and energy I want, and need, to be spending on other aspects of my life. This is especially so when coupled with the time and energy consumed by what I call the “nonsense factor” that is still so present in the Northumberland County political scene.
I have a wonderful wife, Paula, and four amazing children Natalie, Lily, Eric and Brady, who have been a source of great inspiration and joy throughout my time in public office. When I first took office, our oldest child was 13 years old and our youngest was 5. Our oldest, Natalie, is now a sophomore in college, and will soon be off on her own. Our youngest, Brady, would be 17 years old at the end of my third term if office if I had chosen to run and was reelected. He, along with my other children, would have had a childhood where their father was, too often, preoccupied with combating the latest baseless accusation or misinformation campaign waged by those who wish to take us back to the old days of dishonesty, waste, corruption, and win-at-all costs politics in Northumberland County. My wife and I are keenly aware that our children are growing up far too fast, and we both want to be able to spend more time focusing on them and enjoying our time together as a family before they are off on their own, building their own adult lives and families. After many family discussions, I made the decision back in October of this year that I would not be running again.
I discussed my decision with Commissioner Schiccatano in mid-November, and together we identified an excellent running mate for Sam, should he decide to seek re-election. It was, and is, important to me that there be a team in place that can carry on the task of implementing and continuing the changes that the vast majority of Northumberland County voters tasked us with in the 2015 election.
I have always said that the particular people occupying the Commissioner’s offices is not what is important. We will all come and go in time. What is important are the principles of those occupying the offices. The principles of honesty and fairness; of making informed, rational decisions; and of recognizing the value of input from all who choose to be constructively involved in making our County better, regardless of political affiliation. If Commissioner Schiccatano chooses to run next year with the individual he and I have discussed, I am confident that your voting for them will ensure a continuation of our principled approach to governing Northumberland County.
I anticipate that those who wish to drag us back into the old ways of Northumberland County politics will attempt to regain control of the County in next year’s election. After three years with only a minority representation on the Board of Commissioners, they fear that their way of doing business in the County is in danger of extinction, and with it their political relevance. It is important that you get to the polls next year to let them know that the County you took back in 2015 will continue moving forward without them.