Lebanon County Commissioner Robert Phillips announced Tuesday, Nov. 22, his decision to run for a fourth term in office.
Phillips said his family knew of his desire to run, but that he waited to speak with his campaign team, which consists of five advisers, to finalize a decision about running for another four-year term.
“I’ve applied myself and I am still energized by the work, and so they felt that combination and the fact that I have a good shot of putting together a good campaign is how we arrived at a consensus to do it,” he said.
Phillips, a Republican, is current chairman of the County Commissioners. Michael Kuhn is serving the remaining term of William Ames, a fellow Republican who passed away last December. The lone Democrat commissioner in Lebanon County is Jo Ellen Litz.
Phillips and the late commissioner Ames were both first elected in 2011 and re-elected in 2015. Phillips received the most votes out of any candidate for commissioner in the 2011, 2015, and 2019 general elections.
Phillips, who will turn 70 in February, said he knew he wanted to run again, but wanted his election committee to have a say in the decision-making process before making a public announcement.
“I knew of my intention as did my wife (Brenda), but I wanted to hear it from my little group,” Phillips said. “We had a bit of momentum and talked through the issues and so on with the outcome being, ‘Yep, let’s do it.’”
Phillips said that maintaining the fiscal strength of the county has been the foundation of his work, but he’s in particular proud of three accomplishments during his three terms of service to Lebanon County.
“The investment we’ve made in our employees. Doing our best to retain the talent we have as well as the recruitment of new employees. And our work on public safety – specifically, the investment in the 911 Center and the new radios for first responders.”
In 2018, Lebanon County established an “A” rating with Standard & Poors, which is a benchmark indicating whether the county is on sound fiscal ground. S&P’s ratings run from a high mark of AAA to a low mark of D, with the grades being an overall reflection of investment risk.
The county is also in the process of constructing a new $30 million 911 center in North Cornwall Township, which is slated to open in the summer of 2023. Safety issues caused by the current center being in the basement of the county building were a primary reason the commissioners sought a new location.
Phillips, who will have served as a commissioner for 12 years by the end of 2023, said being an owner of a small business in Lebanon for the past 33 years, his prior service to the county, and his work as chairman of the Francis J. Dixon Foundation, are why he feels he’s the best candidate for the job.
“Being chairman of the Dixon Foundation is relevant because of its work for (the improvement of the) quality of life in Lebanon County,” noted Phillips.
Phillips said he isn’t deterred from running for re-election despite spiraling inflation, ongoing supply chain and workforce issues left in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and tighter fiscal budgets.
“I would think that my last 11 years of understanding the work would be a great asset in attacking those issues,” said Phillips. “The time I’ve invested in those issues will give me a lot of strength in dealing with whatever might come down the road in the future.”
It is still unclear whether Kuhn and Litz will seek another term in office, although both recently told LebTown that they are considering re-election bids. The general election will occur on Nov. 7, 2023, while a primary date has not been officially set yet. The next term in office for the county commissioners will commence in 2024.
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