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Tokar-Ickes takes oath, returns to county office


It’s official.

Pamela Tokar-Ickes is back in the Somerset County Commissioners office.

On Friday she took the oath of office after winning Tuesday’s Democratic primary. She was appointed by President Judge D. Gregory Geary to fulfill the unexpired term of John Vatavuk, a Democrat who died in January. His term expires at the end of the year.

“It’s really good to be back,” she said.

Geary allowed longtime Somerset County solicitor-turned Judge Dan Rullo to administer the oath.

Rullo thanked Geary for allowing him to administer the oath to his “close friend.” Rullo worked with Tokar-Ickes for 16 years.

“It is undisputed that Pamela received the highest votes in the primary,” Rullo said. He later added, “I think the electorate chose wisely.”

Tokar-Ickes said that Friday was about the county family.

’When I say county family I am serious,” she said.

“We are in the midst of the political process. It is really important when that process is over you are elected individuals that are going to work together day in, day out, day after day. and you do become very close.”

Tokar-Ickes said that she needs to be briefed on county business, and will be doing her homework to prepare for Tuesday’s commissioners meeting.

“This board has been in transition for almost a year now,” she said, referring to former Commissioner James T. Yoder’s resignation, and then Vatavuk’s death. Yoder now heads the Somerset County Area Agency on Aging.

“The death of an elected official hit everybody very hard. John was a part of this county family for a number of years. People were hurting for a while. I am serious when I say it is really critical to me that we now move forward and get back to the business of county government.”

She said her return should help establish consistency on the board.

“My agenda has never changed,” she said. “It has always been about advancing the county forward.”

Republican Commissioner Gerald Walker said that her 16 years of experience in the office will be invaluable. Walker earned the most votes on the Republican side of the primary Tuesday. Both Walker and Tokar-Ickes will be on the ballot again in the fall. They will join Republican Colleen Dawson and Democrat Dan Hillegas.

“She can come in and go over a few things we’ve done lately,” he said. “She really had her finger on the pulse on everything. I don’t think there will be a lot of transition time. We have a meeting on Tuesday so she will hit the ground running. “

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