Judge names Snyder County chief clerk as commissioner

Newly appointed Snyder County Commissioner Lee Knepp

MIDDLEBURG — The appointment of Snyder County Chief Clerk Lee Knepp as county commissioner Monday morning by President Judge Michael T. Hudock was the result of "political pressure," the board chairman said.

Knepp, a Republican, was sworn into the seat left vacant mid-term by Malcolm Derk, who resigned to accept a full-time position at Susquehanna University.

"It's a nice way to finish off my career with the county," said Knepp, a 40-year county employee. He doesn't plan to run for office when the 23-month term ends.

Board chairman Joe Kantz said the selection of Knepp is the result "of a lot of political pressure."

When asked if Hudock was swayed by politics, Kantz demurred.

"I heard a number of people saying there were a lot of politics going on during the process of this appointment. I tried to stay out of the politics of the situation, knowing that I would have to work with whoever was successfully named as the new commissioner," he said. "I respect Judge Hudock.  I'm sure he weighed all the candidates with the same scale.  

Nineteen people applied to fill Derk's unexpired term through the end of 2019. Members of the county Republican Committee selected by secret ballot three top contenders, Knepp, Bobby Jones and Max Gemberling, for Hudock's consideration.

"I'm sure everyone had their favorite. I can tell you all three candidates were very good," said Hudock.

Of the three, the judge said Knepp had the most knowledge of county government and would be able to "hit the ground running."

Nick Gingrich, chairman of the county Republican Committee, said he was unaware that Kantz had issues with the selection.

"Each candidate did their best to promote themselves," he said, adding that he was thankful Hudock included the committee in the process. "We had limited control. I would be interested to hear where (Kantz) is coming from."

Knepp will take a pay cut when he steps into his new role effective today. As a chief clerk, Knepp was paid $65,550 a year. Commissioners in the county are paid $61,958.

Minority Commissioner Peggy Chamberlain Roup touted Knepp's qualifications and county experience.

"He knows more about Snyder County than anyone I know," she said, adding, "I can work with Lee."

Knepp began his county career as the director of elections in 1976. Two years later he took over as chief clerk, a position he held until 2006. Knepp returned to the administrative post in 2008 when Kantz and Derk were elected.

"I have no agenda as far as existing programs, I think they're very sound," he said. "I want to ensure solid government and make wise decisions."

Kantz said he will work with Knepp to continue "fulfilling the goals that Malcolm and I set out to accomplish 10 years ago."

The board has not yet made a decision on who will fill the chief clerk position, but Roup said it will likely be Tony Phillips, the assistant clerk who was hired last summer.

Email comments to mmoore@dailyitem.com. Follow Marcia on Twitter @marciamoore4.

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