Harrisburg City Council to choose new member Monday

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Harrisburg City Council narrowed a field of 12 candidates down to four Thursday in an effort to decide who will replace former Councilor Eugenia Smith (D).

Smith died last month, just three months into her second term of office on City Council. She’d been involved in public service for more than 25 years.

At the start of Thursday’s meeting, Council President Wanda Williams said, “It is with great sadness that we have to go through this process.”

Twelve people applied for the position. They got two minutes to explain why they want the job.

The person chosen will serve through 2015. Voters will choose in November 2015 who serves the remainder of the term.

Among the twelve candidates were former councilors Kelly Summerford and Patricia Stringer as well as Ellis Roy, who ran unsuccessfully for a seat on council last year.

Through secret ballot, council narrowed the field down to Summerford as well as residents Michelle Blade, Jeffrey Baltimore and Alex Reber. Those four then went through interviews one at a time.

“Most of you have heard people are not happy in the city with the parking situation. And, that’s one of the things that we would have to resolve,” said Summerford, who lost re-election to council last year.

Blade said she moved to Harrisburg less than two years ago. She said she believed her background in conflict resolution would be beneficial.

“So, I had read some comments from the mayor and also from councilpersons, and it seemed to me that there was sort of a breakdown of communication going on,” said Blade.

Alex Reber highlighted his background in accounting as the city works to implement the Harrisburg Strong Plan.

“I don’t have any preconceived notions about what the solutions to all of our problems are, but I would want to work with all of you and the consultants to try to figure that out,” said Reber.

Baltimore, who worked for the city during the Reed administration, said,  “I think the city is on its way to recovery, and I want to be a part of that. I don’t want be a bystander as things happen around me. I want to get in there.”

There will be a special City Council meeting Monday night. The candidate who receives a majority of votes will become the next member of council.