On a list of agenda items ticked off with little discussion at today's Board of Commissioner's meeting, Bruce L. Castor Jr. threw the panel a curveball, when it came to appointing two new members to the Advisory Council on Aging and Adult Services.
Typically, recommendations for new members to these county panels come from the panels themselves. The candidates are already vetted and the votes at commissioner's board meetings are just rubber stamps. This time, though, the commissioners were presented with two unusually high profile names – State Reps. Lawrence H. Curry, a Democrat, and Kate Harper, a Republican.
Commissioners Joseph M. Hoeffel III and James R. Matthews voted to approve their appointments, Castor voted no.
"I don't hold Rep. Harper and Curry in the same regard as my colleagues," he said when asked about his vote. And that's all the explanation he offered.
Castor did not submit his own candidates for appointments, so that's no reason. The commissioners only learned of Harper and Curry's nomination to fill two open seats on the panel during yesterday's planning session.
It may have come down to sheer political grudges. Harper did challenge Castor earlier this year to lead the county's Republican ticket in 2011. And Curry, a Democrat, may just have been collateral damage.
Hoeffel seemed most confused by the vote, looking toward county staff with an arched brow.
"It simply politicizes what should have been a straight procedural vote," he said.
UPDATE (5:45 P.M.): Montgomery County Democratic Committee Chairman Marcel Groen issued the following statement in response to Castor's no vote:
Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce Castor has spent the last three-plus years being obstructive, recalcitrant, petty and argumentative – to an extreme. He has tried to justify "no" votes on even the smallest, least partisan and most routine votes at county commissioner meetings, but Wednesday he added nastiness to his obstinacy.
On what should have been a routine bipartisan vote, Mr. Castor voted "no" on the appointment of State Representatives Lawrence Curry and Kate Harper to unpaid positions on the county's Council for Aging and Adult Services. When asked why he voted against the pair after Commissioner James Matthews and Joe Hoeffel voted affirmatively, Castor said, "I don't hold them in same high regard as my colleagues."
Politics aside, Reps. Curry and Harper have been in public service most of their adult lives, and will be solid additions to a board that looks after the concerns of Montgomery County seniors. Why did Mr. Castor do this? He didn't say, but could it be because Rep. Curry is a Democrat and Rep. Harper, a respected member of his own party, had the audacity to challenge him for the GOP county commissioner endorsement earlier this year.
How can Mr. Castor be expected to work across party lines and govern in a bipartisan manner when he can't get along with respected people in his own party?