Borough Council president retains seat despite challenge

January 04, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Bernard Washabaugh fended off a challenge Monday night when Mayor Robert Morris broke a tie to re-elect him as Chambersburg Borough Council president.

Carl Helman was nominated by fellow Third Ward Councilman Scott Thomas to take over the seat.

"I have a lot of respect for Mr. Helman. I think he will make a fine council president - someday," Morris said when he cast his vote.

Morris also broke a five-five tie for the council vice president. Councilman Robert Wareham Jr. was re-elected vice president over Helman.

"It won't be the same old boring meetings, I have the feeling," Morris said. "I don't want to be the last word on too many issues."


In November the council split over whether to approve a 60-year lease for King's Grant, a proposed senior citizens housing project that is to be built on a borough-owned parking lot. Morris also cast the tie-breaker on that issue.

At the time Helman and other council members complained that too much power was being wielded behind the scenes by the council leadership.

"There's a lot of division on this council," Chambersburg Area Development Corp. past President Skip Jennings said later in the meeting. He urged council members to work together on projects such as King's Grant to bring jobs to the downtown.

Helman said the effort to unseat Washabaugh was not a personal vendetta. "It's a fundamental disagreement over leadership" he said.

"It's encouraging to me that people have the courage and the will to speak their minds," Helman said.

He noted that despite the two tie votes and a 6-4 vote to re-elect Councilman William McLaughlin as Finance Committee chairman, the council voted unanimously on eight issues.

The council holds reorganization meetings every two years. Monday night, two new council members were sworn in: Fourth Ward Councilwoman Sharon Bigler and Third Ward Councilman Scott Thomas.

Both were elected Nov. 2, but Thomas has been serving an interim appointment since November to fill the unexpired term of former Councilman W. Larry Johnson, who resigned Oct. 28 after being charged with institutional sexual assault, introducing contraband into a prison and solicitation of prostitution.

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