SANATOGA PA – Sometime today (Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2015), long-time Lower Pottsgrove resident Raymond “Ray” Lopez is due to step into the Sanatoga courtroom of Magisterial District Justice Edward C. Kropp Sr. and, probably with cell phone camera shutters clicking away, be sworn into office as the newest member of the township Board of Commissioners.
Lopez, president of the Ringing Hill Fire Company and a former Pottstown borough manager, was the board’s unanimous choice Monday night (Oct. 5) to succeed former commissioner Shawn Watson, who officially tendered his resignation a month ago. Watson left office after a series of local newspaper reports that detailed his legal and financial difficulties.
The four remaining commissioners had hoped to conduct Lopez’s swearing in at their meeting, but he had another obligation and could not attend, board President Bruce Foltz said. “He probably doesn’t even know he’s been selected,” Foltz added.
Both Foltz and board Vice President Stephen Klotz praised all five candidates who volunteered to take Watson’s place on the board, but said Lopez was most impressive. During public interviews of the five conducted by the board last Wednesday (Sept. 30), Lopez “had certificates” that documented his expertise in municipal management, “had answers to our questions, and knew what he wanted to do while he’s here,” Klotz said.
He also indicated a willingness to seek election to a full board term once he fulfills his time in the Watson vacancy, Klotz noted. “That made a difference to me,” he said.
Competing against for the position Lopez were Justin Valentine, currently president of the Pottsgrove School District Board of School Directors; Scott Fulmer, former school board president, currently a member of the township Planning Commission, and formerly a member of its Zoning Hearing Board; Charles Nippert Jr., a chemical engineering professor at Widener University who is running for election to the board; and Robert Franciose, who was a vocal critic of Watson and who since has been a regular audience member at board meetings.
“It was a hard choice to make between a couple of them,” Foltz said of the candidates. “All of them brought a lot of experience to the table.”
Klotz agreed. “All five were very good. And you know, it’s not an easy task to try and replace a commissioner. You try to please everybody, and you never know if you’re doing the right thing.”
“To get five responses for this, that’s amazing,” Klotz added.
Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Oct. 5 meeting):