York County state Sen. Mike Waugh, R-York County, announced today that he has resigned to accept a position as executive director of the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg.
Waugh replaces Patrick Kerwin, who is retiring after serving as the facility's director since 2005. Kerwin will be serving in an advisory capacity over the next several months as Waugh transitions into his new role.
A special election to fill the vacancy has been set for Tuesday, March 18.
Waugh is owner and operator of Glen Ridge Farms, an equine, grain and hay operation. He regularly competes with his draft horses in hitch competitions at the complex. He currently chairs the draft horse departments of the Keystone International Livestock Exposition, held at the complex each October, and the York Fair Heavy Horse Hitch Show. He also served for nearly 15 years as a Farm Show commissioner.
Waugh was first elected to the senate in 1998 and was a key member of its Republican leadership, serving as caucus chairman. Previously, he served in the House of Representatives for six years and, before that, was a supervisor in Shrewsbury Township, York County. Prior to public service, he was managing partner of Waugh Construction Co. for 18 years.
In August 2013 Waugh announced that he would not seek re-election when his term ended this year.
"I have notified Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati of my resignation from the Senate, effective on January 12 at noon," Waugh said in a news release. "I did so with both a bitter and a sweet feeling. It has been a distinct honor to represent the residents of York County in the General Assembly. I will always remember and cherish the trust they put in me for the past two decades."
"We'll miss Mike's straightforward approach to being a legislator," said Scarnati. "He has provided steady, no-nonsense leadership on agricultural issues ever since he was first elected to the General Assembly, and the hole he leaves behind in the Senate won't easily be filled. I know he'll do a great job at the Farm Show and look forward to working with him in that capacity for many years to come."
"Mike has been a tremendous advocate for the citizens of the 28th district, a leading voice on agricultural issues in Pennsylvania, and a valued member of Senate Republican leadership," said Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9). "I hate to see him leave the Senate, but he's perfect for this new position. I wish him all the best."
Waugh said he has been considering the position "for the better part of a year" and looks forward "to the challenges it will bring, and I'm excited to serve the citizens of Pennsylvania in this new capacity."
"We are honored Mike has agreed to take on the job of directing the Pennsylvania Farm Show and Expo Center," said Gov. Tom Corbett. "Under Mike's leadership, I know our center will remain the world standard for showcasing the business of agriculture … and the values of the Pennsylvania farmer."
According to the release, as director, Waugh will work to:
• Secure a steady funding stream for complex operations by enhancing private partnerships and exploring new business opportunities;
• Identify and implement efficiencies that reduce operating costs;
• Enhance the regional and national perception of the complex as a modern and complete facility for commercial and convention events and meetings;
• Preserve the reputation of the complex as a premier host of local, regional, national and international agricultural events; and
• Finalize, implement and monitor the complex's ongoing strategic planning process to address current and future needs, including capital improvements and staff training.
Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary George Greig lauded Kerwin and the "wealth of experience in hospitality management" he brought to the complex, saying, "In the eight years he has served the complex, his commitment to customer service and strategic approach to leveraging new business opportunities helped grow the complex into the region's premier event facility."
Kerwin has increased the facility's revenue by 20 percent by reducing energy and operating costs and entering into innovative public-private partnerships with Weis Markets, Ford, Nationwide Insurance and Highmark that total $225,000 annually. He also has increased occupancy in major halls by 4 percent.
Born in York, Waugh graduated from Chambersburg Area Senior High School and attended Penn State, the release said. He and his wife, Wanda, have one son, Joseph, and a granddaughter, Camdyn.