Publicly Elected Officials
The registered voters of Dauphin County elect the following public officials for four year terms: three County Commissioners, District Attorney, Treasurer, Prothonotary, Coroner, Clerk of Courts, Register of Wills and Clerk of the Orphans’ Court, Sheriff, Controller and Recorder of Deeds. With the exception of the commissioners, these public officials are frequently referred to as "row officers."
Clerk of Courts The Clerk of Courts is an officer of the court and an independently elected official serving a four-year term. The main office is primarily responsible for recording, maintaining, and processing criminal and juvenile records for the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas.
Commissioners Dauphin County Commissioners Mike Pries, Chad Saylor, and George P. Hartwick, III are essentially the CEOs of the county, with authority over budgets and finance, debts, contracts, appointment of department heads and staff in departments that report directly to the board, as well as appointments to the many authorities, commissions and boards. Commissioners are elected to four-year terms.
Controller The Controller is the elected Chief Fiscal Officer of Dauphin County who supervises fiscal affairs, as set forth by the Pennsylvania County Code for Counties of the Third Class. The Controller is required by these Pennsylvania statutes to maintain and keep all fiscal and accounting records and to assure compliance of all financial and fiscal records in accordance with the latest standards and procedures of the accounting profession.
Coroner The Coroner’s Office is a team of medicolegal death investigators. We investigate the cause and manner of death, and certify every homicide, suicide, and accidental death in Dauphin County, as well as certifying many natural deaths.
District Attorney The Dauphin County District Attorney is elected to a four-year term as the chief law enforcement officer of the county. This office works closely with federal, state, and local police agencies in the County in the investigation, prosecution, and prevention of crime.
Prothonotary The Dauphin County Prothonotary is elected to a four-year term to record and file all legal papers related to the civil court. These documents may include arbitration hearings, argument, court and civil trials, building agreements, change of names, issue of divorce certificates, and landlord/tenant disputes.
Recorder of Deeds Recorder of Deeds maintains all deeds and miscellaneous documents from 1785 to the present and mortgages from 1979 to the present.
Register of Wills & Clerk of Orphans' Court The primary duties of the Register of Wills & Clerk of the Orphans' Court include probating estates, acting as the inheritance tax agent for the PA Department of Revenue, processing applications for marriage licenses, maintaining dockets for adoptions, terminations of parental rights, and guardianships for minors and incapacitated adults, among other things.
Sheriff The Dauphin County Sheriff's Department is an arm of the Court. The Sheriff, elected to a four-year term, oversees the transporting of prisoners from the Dauphin County Prison to the courthouse, securing the interior of the courtroom, and serving court papers.
Treasurer The Treasurer's Office is the custodian of county funds and is responsible for the collection of real estate taxes, fees, receipts, and grants payable to the county. The Treasurer's Office processes the real estate tax revenues remitted by the municipal tax collectors in Dauphin County and serves as tax collector for county taxes for the City of Harrisburg.
The term "row office" originated in the 1800s. The offices of county officials were situated in a row on the ground floor of a long corridor in the courthouse. Over time, record-keeping and county services became complex and required more space than a string of offices in a hallway. However, the term "row officer" stuck and continues to be used today when referring to elected public officials who serve the county.
Row officers record and maintain official public records; collect taxes, fees and court-imposed fines; aid in the administration of justice and perform many other county-related public service functions. Frequently used services include obtaining passports, marriage licenses, dog and hunting licenses and gun permits.