2009-10-15 / Front Page

Craig Cutchall Will Fill Vacant County Commissioner Seat

Judge says decision difficult
By Lindsay R. Mellott STAFF WRITER

Craig Cutchall Craig Cutchall Retired Forbes Road teacher Craig Cutchall is President Judge Douglas W. Herman’s pick for the vacancy former commissioner Daniel H. Swain Jr. created when he resigned in July to assume the position of county clerk.

Herman made the annoucement Tuesday afternoon, ending an appointment process that began in August.

Cutchall, 57, was one of 16 Republican applicants vying for Swain’s empty seat .

Swain, a Republican, was reelected county commissioner in November 2007 to a fourth term of office that expires at the end of December 2011.

The County Code stipulates that a vacancy in the office of county commissioner be filled by a registered voter of the county who is a member of the same political party as the commissioner who is being replaced. The code also stipulates that the appointment be made by the court of common pleas of the county in which the vacancy occurred.

Judge Herman told the “News” Tuesday afternoon that all 16 applicants met the minimum criteria to replace Swain. Of those 16, Herman said, 10 who had additional qualities that made them “real prospects” to be qualified for commissioner were selected to be interviewed.

Some of those qualities included, Herman said, community service, work experience, contact with local government, experience with local government, potential for longevity in office and interest in public service.

The judge found the 10 applicants to be an “extremely strong group of people,” saying he felt all 10 could have been made commissioner. “It was an extremely hard decision,” Herman said. “ ... None of the 10 would have been a bad decision.”

In a letter to county commissioners Bonnie Mellott Keefer and David R. Hoover Tuesday afternoon announcing Cutchall’s appointment, Herman wrote that the numerous qualified applicants made the court’s decision difficult. “The citizens of Fulton County should be proud and hopeful that this high level of competence and interest in their local government will serve them well.”

Judge Herman concluded his letter to the commissioners, writing: “One behalf of all the judges of the 39th district I can truly say that the citizens of Fulton County are well-prepared with the present Board of Commissioners to meet the awesome challenges confronting local government today.”

“The board is pleased that President Judge Herman has made his decision and selected a commissioner,” Keefer and Hoover said in a released statement. “The current commissioners look forward to working with Craig Cutchall and will assist him in learning the duties and responsibilities of his new position.”

Cutchall and his wife, Susan, were visiting their daughter, Cortney, and husband Mike Keebaugh in Arizona when he learned he had been named commissioner. He told the “News” Tuesday afternoon that a friend had suggested he apply for the commissioner vacancy. “The more I thought about it the more I thought it would be a good idea to have a commissioner from the northern end of the county,” Cutchall said.

Cutchall says the local economy is one concern he will bring to his new role as county commissioner. “I am concerned about what’s going to happen at JLG once the contract (which has brought back 500 or so laidoff employees back to work) is up,” he said.

Another concern he’ll bring to the job is the state budget issue and how it affects the county. He is also wonders about the state of the county’s budget.

“I would like to get up-tospeed as quickly as possible,” said Cutchall, who will be sworn into office Tuesday morning, Oct. 20, at the Fulton County Courthouse.

Cutchall and his wife reside in Taylor Township. They have two daughters, Cortney Keebaugh and Corryn Fraker. He is a member of Fairview Methodist Church where he has been a Sunday school teacher for 28 years and is president of the board of trustees. Cutchall is a charter member of the Forbes Road Lions Club, a member of the Forbes Road Alumni Scholarship Committee and secretary of Hartman Memorial Cemetery. He was Public Opinion Girls Basketball Coach of the Year in 1986 and 1994, the Fulton County Man of the Year in 1990 and recipient of the Lions Club International Melvin Jones Fellow 2007-2008.

Cutchall says it’s too early to say whether he will run for commissioner in the next election.

“I’m just going to do the best job I can and hope the public is satisfied and the commissioners are satisfied.”

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