Lebanon city resident and community activist Sharon Zook will be a candidate on the Republican ballot for Lebanon County commissioner at the May 16 municipal primary election.

Zook, 54, works as a designer at her family-owned business, Snitz Creek Cabinet Shop, in North Cornwall Township. She was also a driving force behind the revival of the city’s popular South Sixth Street Playground.

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Zook’s announcement swells the primary field to seven hopefuls seeking the three commissioner positions.

Republican incumbents Bob Phillips and Mike Kuhn and Democratic incumbent Jo Ellen Litz are seeking additional four-year terms. They are joined by Republicans Zook and Bill Bering, and Democrats Mike Schroeder, and Diana Carpenter.

According to a news release, Zook is running on a platform of fiscal responsibility, economic growth, improved delivery of services to “our elderly, children, youth, and vulnerable populations,” “addressing mental health,” and improving the quality of life for all Lebanon countians.

Zook, who holds degrees in social science, psychology, and applied clinical psychiatry from HACC, Lebanon Valley College, and Penn State, says she will bring an unusual combination of academic and real world work experience to office.

She told LebTown that she has an interest in industrial organizational psychology and behavior, and has found that those skills transfer to fulfilling customer needs at her family’s cabinet shop, where her father taught her to do design drawings.

“I went into clinical psychology, thinking that’s what I was going to do,” she said. “But, I went back to work in our cabinet shop because, when I was younger, I did drawings for my dad at the shop.”

She believes the same skills can make her an effective commissioner by understanding her constituents needs and behavior.

Her behavioral background, she says, helps her understand what customers – and constituents – want and what it takes to fulfill their desires. “It helps me understand customer behavior and concerns,” she said. “Meeting customer concerns is one of the biggest things in being successful.”

She added that she understands that elected officials’ actions affect lives, much the same as installing a kitchen or bath where “we are changing the environment inside a customer’s home.”

Zook played a major part in the revitalization of city-owned South Sixth Street Playground, including an expansion to two basketball courts.

In 2010, “I was in grad school at the time, and I bought a house right next to the playground,” she recalled.

Due largely to outdated and unsafe equipment, “the city’s insurance company threatened to cancel coverage, which would have closed the facility.” At the start “we kind of fixed it up well enough that they didn’t close it down.”

The playground project resulted not only in equipment and basketball court upgrades, but “a fully funded summer day camp program that focuses on school readiness, physical exercise, and healthy nutrition for kids, which served over 2000 meals last year,” according to Zook’s media release, which is now in it’s 12th year.

Zook says she is grateful to the United Way, the Frank Dixon Foundation, and a host of private donors who fund or have funded the summer camp program over the years.

Zook says she was heavily involved in writing the grant applications for the playground project, and through the process acquired another skill that will carry over to the commissioners’ office.

“That’s another reason I think I’m a good fit for commissioner. There are funds available, but you need someone who knows how to pull those funds down.” At first, she says, “I didn’t know anything about fundraising or grant writing. You kind of learn as you go.”

Asked why she is the best candidate for commissioner, Zook said her “life experiences and proven track record in stewardship and servant leadership make her uniquely qualified compared to other candidates.”

Zook has served as president of the Lebanon Valley Council of Arts since 2013. She is a recipient of a local Jefferson Award for Public Service, the Soroptimist International Women’s Opportunity Award, and multiple Lebanon County Builder’s Association Kitchen Remodeling Awards. She is also a member of the Lebanon County Commission for Women’s Hall of Fame.

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Chris Coyle

Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...


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