North Huntingdon commissioners choose Jeff Silka as township manager
North Huntingdon's new township manager, hired Thursday, said he wanted the job because of the challenges it offers in overseeing a diverse municipality.
By unanimous vote, the commissioners selected Jeff Silka, 50, who is Robinson Township's current manager, at an annual salary of $110,000.
He is scheduled to begin the job on Nov. 1.
“This is an area that offers a lot of diverse opportunities,” said Silka, who has been Robinson Township's manager for 4 1⁄2 years.
Silka said he needs time to meet with the township commissioners and the staff before setting priorities or determining what the challenges would be in his new posit.
Silka, a Johnstown native, replaces John Shepherd, who left the township at the end of May for a similar municipal government position in northern New Jersey. In the interim, assistant manager Mike Turley has served as the township's chief administrator. Turley did not apply for the manager's job, the commissioners said.
The unanimous vote was a rarity on a board that frequently votes 4-3 on any controversial matter.
“He was the one who stood out to us,” said Commissioner Tony Martino, board president. “We all liked him.”
Commissioner Zach Haigis said Silka not only was the best candidate but brings “vast experience in economic development.”
Commissioner Rich Gray said he supported Silka primarily because of his work as Monroeville's municipal manager. Silka would not fire the police chief, Kenneth “Doug” Cole, when a new majority took over that board, Gray said. Instead, Silka resigned amid pressure in January 2013 after seven months in that job.
“Sometimes you have to do what you feel is right to do,” Silka said of his decision that led him to leave his job in Monroeville.
He also served as Johnstown's city manager from 2002-05, he said.
Silka earned a master of public affairs at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and has a bachelor's degree in political science from University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.