Julie Haertsch wants to get York County residents excited to vote.
As the new director of voter registration and elections, she seems to be in the position to do just that.
The York County commissioners announced Haertsch’s selection on Wednesday, and said her first day will be Feb. 23. Her salary will be $80,000.
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Haertsch, who believes voting is a “sacred obligation,” spent 16 years with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission before retiring in 2017. She was a fare collection transition and training manager, as well as a human resources specialist, which helped her develop skills in processes, policies and procedures, leadership and team building, according to a news release.
“Julie brings with her great organizational and leadership skills, which will not only improve the office’s performance, but ultimately, improve the voting experience for York County residents,” York County President Commissioner Julie Wheeler said. “We are committed to continuous process improvement with our elections and look forward to the process expertise Julie brings.”
Haertsch comes to the position with no elections experience, just like her predecessor, Steve Ulrich. He was hired just under two years ago and previously served as the executive director of the Centennial Conference, which is an NCAA Division 3 athletic conference with 11 member schools.
The elections office came under fire after the general election in November 2020 and primary last May.
York’s results were one several that received an audit request after President Joe Biden won Pennsylvania in the last presidential election, even though the county voted Republican.
Voters and some prominent officials called for Ulrich’s resignation or firing after a number of polling places ran out of ballots in the May primary. More ballots were printed and delivered to the polling places before the polls closed.
Ulrich was demoted to deputy director four weeks before the November election, and the county posted the open position. Ulrich left the county’s employ last month to become managing editor of a political blog.
The job description said the county preferred to hire someone with previous management experience in elections and voter registration. Wheeler didn’t respond when asked if they had any applicants with that experience.
It didn’t take long for the Democratic Party of York County to question Haertsch’s hiring. And call for her immediate resignation.
Saying she has “no demonstrable experience in election law or election procedures” and is “clearly entrenched deeply within the Republican Party” as a former candidate and donor, Democrats are calling for the resignation and a “full investigation of the hiring practices utilized to make this decision,” according to a news release.
Chad Baker, chairperson for the Democratic Party of York County, accuses the commissioners’ office in the release of only considering Haertsch for the position after other candidates were weeded out or dropped out because of the “toxic nature of the elections office.”
Haetsch said she hopes to use her new position as a way to exemplify her passion for public service.
“I have always felt that public service was important,” the York County resident said. “I think it’s an opportunity to put good out in the world.”
Shelly Stallsmith is a trends reporter for the York Daily Record. She can be reached at [email protected] or followed on Twitter at @ShelStallsmith.