Mont Alto political future uncertain

September 25, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

MONT ALTO, Pa. - Whether the borough of Mont Alto still has a government on Jan. 1 depends largely on whether any citizen decides to run for a seat on the Borough Council.

So far nobody has filed.

None of the seven council members or the mayor are seeking re-election on Nov. 4. Most said they've been serving long enough.

No new candidates have come forward to run for their seats.

It's created a situation that no one in town can remember happening before, said Patty Kocek, a secretary in Borough Hall for the last 10 years.


Several veteran council members say they aren't worried. "Someone will step up in time, they usually do," said Councilman Robert Rock, who served on the council from 1989 to 1995, stepped down, then was appointed in January to fill an unexpired term.

But even Rock admits things are different this year. There has been limited interest in serving on the council previously, but the problem was never as serious as it is now because members served staggered terms. Not all seven members plus the mayor have been up for re-election at the same time before.

This year two elected members are ending four-year terms. Four others, all of whom were appointed, along with Mayor Frank Gilreath, who was also appointed, aren't running in November.

Councilman Paul Rohrer resigned Sept. 16 for personal reasons.

There are systems in place to appoint council members in event of vacancies. The council has 30 days to fill a vacancy. Failing that, the vacancy board, which includes a chairman and the remaining council members, have 15 more days to fill the gaps. After that, it goes to the president judge of the Common Pleas Court for appointment.

All of that only works when candidates are found to fill the vacancies, said attorney Jeff Evans, town solicitor.

The council has asked him to look into this year's unusual situation.

"I haven't done any research on it yet," Evans said Thursday. "I'm pretty sure someone will come forward. There's usually some write-ins."

Any citizen with 10 write-in votes on election day can be appointed to serve, he said. He also said all seven members don't have to be seated to run the council. A majority of those seated can make a quorum, he said.

"If no one comes forward, if there are no write-ins and all the terms expire, then it's a possibility that there won't be any government here," Rock said.

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