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Altoona searching for new police chief

Monday, November 12, 2018
Julian Emerson | Leader-Telegram

Altoona city officials are searching for a new police chief after the man currently in that position won election last week to the state Assembly.

City Administrator Mike Golat said that Jesse James' last day as police chief will be Jan. 7, the date he is scheduled to be sworn in as a new Assembly member. James, a Republican, defeated Democratic challenger Wendy Sue Johnson in the Nov. 6 election for the 68th Assembly District seat previously held by Republican Kathy Bernier.

Having James serve as police chief and an assemblyman simultaneously isn't workable, Golat said, given the demands of those jobs and the fact taxpayer money pays those.

"With the demands of those jobs, you simply can't dedicate the time needed to be police chief," Golat said.

Some members of the state Assembly and Senate retain their jobs while serving on those legislative bodies. But doing so with the police chief position could be problematic, Golat said.

The Altoona Police and Fire Commission is scheduled to discuss the hiring process for a new police chief at its Wednesday meeting.

James was unavailable for comment.  He has worked for the Altoona Police Department for 17 years and was named police/fire chief in October 2013.

Last year those positions were separated, and the city hired Mark Renderman as fire chief and James remained police chief.

James will take a pay cut in his new position. His current salary as police chief is $81,411, more than his $52,988 Assembly job pay.

Contact: 715-830-5911, julian.emerson@ecpc.com

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