Trumbull County Commissioners Dan Polivka and Mauro Cantalamessa hired Rebecca M. Gerson
on Wednesday to be county administrator, purchasing coordinator and transit administrator.
Gerson, a deputy law director for Youngstown, will be paid $85,000, and still has to pass a drug screen, background check and physical exam. She will start work April 9.
“Unfortunately, I’m not in favor of a county administrator,” said Commissioner Frank Fuda, who voted against the hiring.
Polivka touted Gerson’s career as a lawyer and her family background with a construction business, and said she will be able to handle some of the legal issues now farmed out to outside attorneys, saving the county more money than just by combining positions.
“I feel this is a win-win situation for Trumbull County,” he said. “(She’s) Well-versed in a lot of areas. How anybody can vote against that is beyond me, but I think there’s a lot of good things that could come out of this and I look forward to working with Rebecca Gerson.”
“Maybe the bigger question is not, ‘Why an administrator?’ but, ‘Why not?’” Cantalamessa said.
Other counties have had success with an administrator, he said.
“They’re able to streamline the administrative process, because we do need to adhere to the rigidity of the Sunshine Laws, and this gives us a conduit to sort of implement our vision and our focus through a single head, through a single person,” Cantalamessa said. “I’m excited for her to get started, and I’m excited for us to move forward in a positive way.”
Human Relations Director Mark Jackson and Trumbull County Transit Board Chairman Robert Faulkner endorsed Gerson, while outgoing Transit Administrator Mark Hess cautioned commissioners that the Federal Transit Administration will have to be “comfortable with” Gerson and “concur” in her appointment to handle the transit duties.
“At the end of the day, they want somebody responsible for insuring that the FTA requirements are being met,” Hess said.
Gerson said she has experience working within state and federal laws and regulations, noting she has been a private-practice lawyer, county prosecutor and part-time magistrate and judge.
“I believe I bring a special ability in the multitasking and the ability to work with department heads and work with elected officials,” said Gerson, who lives in Trumbull County.
“We all know that, at certain times, different things need 80 percent or 100 percent attention,” she said. “I’m well aware of that, and I’m more than willing to do that and to prioritize and to listen to all the commissioners as to what they feel the priorities should be, as well as work with everyone to make sure that Trumbull County continues to move forward.”