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Council member in Waynesboro resigns

May 19, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The entrance to the Waynesboro Borough Council's meeting room is becoming a revolving door.

Since August, two councilmen resigned, two were made lame ducks in Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary and one more resigned Wednesday night.

Councilman Andrew J. Benchoff, elected to represent Ward 3 in November 2003, sent a letter to the council announcing his immediate resignation.

He was not at the meeting Wednesday. His letter was read by Borough Manager Lloyd Hamberger.

Benchoff, an attorney, explained in his letter that when he was sworn into office in January 2004 he worked for a Waynesboro law firm that did not require him to practice in areas that affected the borough or other area municipalities.

In February 2004, Benchoff and attorney Donald Kornfield formed a new law firm.

"Since that time, I have focused my practice on many areas impacting and involving municipalities while being careful in my official duties to the Borough to avoid potential conflicts of interest ...," his letter said.

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There have been numerous issues before the council over the last year that have involved Waynesboro developer Ronnie Martin, in which Benchoff said he had to abstain because his law firm represented the developer.

He said in his letter, "This has resulted in my abstention from many votes coming before the council and the constant need to assess whether a given situation or issue may present a conflict of interest."

The council accepted his resignation on a unanimous vote Wednesday.

Last August, Councilman Jahnathan Cain, who was elected when Benchoff was elected, resigned from the council to move to California. C. Harold Mumma was appointed to replace Cain.

Mumma lost his chance to run for a full term in November when he was beaten in Tuesday's Pennsylvania primary.

Longtime Councilman Ardie Winters resigned in February for health reasons. The council appointed Lorena Newcomer to replace him. She lost her chance to run in November in Tuesday's primary.

Hamberger said the council has 30 days to appoint a replacement for Benchoff.

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