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Mayor's appointment irks some

March 15, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - In a final move as mayor, John W. Slayman appointed James C. Kalbfleisch to an open Town Council seat Monday - drawing a rebuke from Slayman's election opponents.

Slayman presided over his last town meeting after 20 years - believed to be the longest mayoral reign in Williamsport's history.

But on an evening marked by salutes to Slayman, an incoming team of elected officials said Kalbfleisch was the wrong choice.

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Kalbfleisch, 59, is the vice president of quality assurance for Glessner Alarm and Communications in Hagerstown. He served eight years as a councilman, but failed to win re-election in 2003.

"I'm not happy at all with it," Assistant Mayor-elect Monty R. Jones said after the meeting. "The town chose not to elect him two years ago."

Jones, who beat Kalbfleisch for a council seat in 2003, was elected assistant mayor last week. James G. McCleaf II won the mayor race, while Nelson F. Deal and Jeff Cline won council seats. The four, who ran as a ticket, are scheduled to be sworn in Monday at 7:30 p.m.

Cline complimented Kalbfleisch's "energy" to return to office. McCleaf would not comment on Kalbfleisch, but said he had wanted to appoint Chris South to the open seat at the next meeting. South ran for assistant mayor on Slayman's ticket.

Reached at home afterwards, Kalbfleisch said, "I'm not surprised by his comments," referring to Jones.

Asked if he could govern with people who don't support his appointment, Kalbfleisch said, "I'll sure try."

Jones resigned Feb. 16, midway through his council term, to run for assistant mayor.

Although the town charter says vacancies "shall be filled ... within 15 days," Town Attorney Edward Kuczynski said that Monday - 26 days later - was the council's first chance to act, unless it called a special meeting.

Slayman said he picked Kalbfleisch for his experience.

"You've got two brand new people (on the council). It's good experience to help those people along," Slayman said.

Monday's meeting also was the last for Councilwoman Roxann L. Long and Assistant Mayor Walter W. Tracy Jr. Neither sought re-election.

Long was on the council for eight years and Tracy served nearly 16 years as councilman and assistant mayor.

As the meeting ended, Tracy gave Slayman a clock from the council and the town's residents.

Slayman was expressive in his goodbyes.

"I have nothing to be ashamed of," he said. "I put my heart and soul into this place."

With 20 years as mayor, Slayman served one more year than Richard G. Hawken, the mayor from 1934 to 1953.

Noting his lengthy service to the fire department, ambulance service, Boy Scouts and constituents, he added, "If there's one thing I wanted to leave as a legacy, it's L-O-V-E, and I don't hear that too much anymore."

He also offered to help the incoming administration - a sharp turnaround from his election night vow to be "their worst ... nightmare."

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