The list of Wayne County candidates for commissioner has three Democrats and three Republicans running in the primary election in May, and the four winners will run for three seats in the November election.
Because of the retirement of commissioner Tony Herzog, there are three positions open rather than two.
The most prominent Republican is incumbent Brian Smith, who is seeking a second term and currently serves as chairman of the commissioners.
Prior to becoming a commissioner, Smith was a dairy farmer for 25 years and a school bus driver for 20 years. He was a biomedical technician at Wayne Memorial Hospital for seven years and worked as an electrical designer on nuclear submarines in Newport News, VA.
Smith holds a bachelors degree in electrical engineering from Penn State and serves as an official of several community and political organizations, such as the chairman of the county Local Emergency Planning Committee.
The other incumbent running for reelection is Democrat Wendell Kay. Kay, who has a law degree from Ohio Northern University, has maintained a law practice in Northeastern Pennsylvania for 30 years. As for public office, he served one term on the Honesdale Borough Council. He has served in the position of township solicitor for Berlin, Damascus and Sterling townships.
Fellow Democrat Rick Southerton, who retired from the U.S. Marine Corps with the rank of sergeant, has had a distinguished career with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, serving in several locations. While an agent, he earned a Master of Arts degree in adult education from Seton Hall University.
Another Democrat running for the office is Janette Gardas, who served as president of the Western Wayne School Board for several years. She worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for 37 years where she learned a great deal about contracts, public law, right-of-way procedures and road weights for hauling permits.
On the Republican side, in addition to Smith, are Jonathan Fritz and Ed Langendoerfer.
Fritz, who is serving a second term as the mayor of Honesdale, said the need for good jobs is a major priority for the area. He claims that the lack of good paying jobs is the chief reason that many young people leave the area. Fritz feels that his experience as mayor will serve him in good stead for handling the job of commissioner. As a Republican, he said he believes that big government has no place in the area, and that the most sensible government takes place at the local level.
Langendoerfer, who served in the U.S. military, pursued a Bachelor of Science degree from East Stroudsburg University when he returned home. He was a member of the Honesdale Borough Council, serving as president. He is the owner of a tree removal and excavating company.