Terlingo tapped to replace Yoder as county commissioner

September 2, 2018

A retired North Star School District superintendent said that a desire to give back to the community motivated him to submit his name for Somerset County commissioner.

Pat Terlingo was named Friday morning as the replacement for Somerset County Commissioner James T. Yoder, who resigned his position in July to head the Area Agency on Aging.

Terlingo, 73, of Boswell, is a lifelong county resident.

“I always wanted to do something like that,” he said. “Rather than running for office, I saw the opportunity.”

Terlingo was one of 21 applicants for the vacant position. According to a press release, Somerset County Judges D. Gregory Geary, Scott Bittner and Dan Rullo narrowed the field to four. They then met with Commissioners Gerald Walker and John Vatavuk, who narrowed the field to two. Those two applicants were interviewed, and the judges offered the position to Terlingo.

“In Mr. Terlingo, the court believes we have found the applicant who best meets our selection criteria,” the press release states.

The court was seeking applicants who did not want to run for the office in 2019. Terlingo said he has no plans to run for a full term.

“I am not bringing a personal agenda to the table,” he said. “I am very open-minded and hope I can help this county as well as the people of the county.”

Terlingo worked in education for 37 years. From 1994 to 2003 he served as acting superintendent and superintendent. He also was a head football coach and wrestling coach.

As commissioner, he will receive the same salary as Yoder: $70,447 a year.

“The coming 16 months will present multiple challenges for the Board of Commissioners,” the press release states. “In addition to the annual budgeting process that begins next month, the Board will be negotiating new collective bargaining agreements with four labor unions, finalizing countywide broadband initiatives, and working to secure funding for the completion of Route 219. For anyone filling the vacancy, there will be a considerable learning curve to overcome in order to gain a mastery of these issues. Moreover, although the office is technically considered “part-time,” the reality is that the demands of the office require one’s full-time efforts.”

Terlingo said his experience as the North Star superintendent will help him in this role.

“You talk about fiscal responsibility, personnel, contract negotiations, arbitration,” he said. “As superintendent that went along with the job. I think I will enjoy doing that for the next year and four or five months, working with all the people in the county, and hopefully I can bring something to the table that will be very positive.”

Walker had said in previous interviews with the Daily American that he was hoping to have a commissioner in place by budget time in October.

“The judge told us he would keep things rolling along as quick as he could,” he said. “He had a big decision.”

Walker said he is excited to have Terlingo join the board. He will be sworn in Tuesday and his first official meeting will be Sept. 18.

“I’m anxious to meet him and get this part of the chapter of the book put behind us and move on forward,” he said.

Walker said he was surprised by how many applications the county received because of the caretaker stipulation.

“I am sure the judges’ decision wasn’t easy,” he said. “I know it is a decision we are all going to be able to live with.”

Terlingo, who worked with Vatavuk, a retired teacher, at North Star, said he is looking forward to meeting all of the people and county department heads and starting the budget process with Walker and Vatavuk.

“I think all three of us can work very well together,” Terlingo said.

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