Judge picks Bedford commissioner

BEDFORD – A two-time candidate for Bedford County elected office is set to be sworn in as commissioner Monday after a county judge selected him from a pool of applicants.

Barry Dallara, 68, of Alum Bank will fill outgoing Commissioner Steve Howsare’s seat on the three-member board, officials said Thursday. A former school administrator and Army Reserve officer, Dallara ran unsuccessfully for commissioner in 2011 and for register-recorder last year.

“I’m just going to go there and be available to help,” he said. “There’s some good people there now.”

Howsare announced his resignation Jan. 21, effective Sunday, after he accepted a job as executive director of the Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission.

Bedford County President Judge Thomas S. Ling was legally required to pick a successor.

Some voters have complained that Dallara, a Republican, lacks experience in elected office, Commissioner Chairman Kirt Morris said, but his long resume and avowed interest in politics are points in his favor.

“I’ve received a couple comments from different people, like, ‘He’s always ran and lost; why would the judge pick him?” Morris said.

An answer likely isn’t forthcoming: Ling refused to comment on his decision Thursday.

Morris said several other applicants approached the commissioners, but the selecting judge isn’t under any obligation to take outside advice.

Regardless, Morris said Dallara was a good choice for the open seat – as a former Army colonel and 25-year school administrator, he can offer leadership experience.

“Really, a lot of the stuff we do is common sense and a willingness to dig in and get information,” Morris said.

While past commissioners’ boards have been sharply divided, the past two years have been exceedingly calm, with its two Republicans and single Democrat voting unanimously on almost every issue. Morris said he doesn’t expect their united front to change with Dallara at the table.

“I’ve voted ‘no’ maybe twice in the two years I’ve been here,” he said. “I hope we can be a team that works together and talks together … unlike what we’ve been in the past.”

Dallara’s annual salary as commissioner is set at $51,542.

Dallara was a few hundred votes away from winning a board seat in 2011, when he finished third against Morris and Howsare in the Republican primary. He received 44 percent of the vote for register-recorder in his November loss to incumbent Faith Zembower, a Democrat.

He said he’ll seek re-election next year when Howsare’s unfinished term expires.

Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.