Oxford Borough Council member resigns
● By Steven Hoffman
Phillip Hurtt has resigned from Oxford Borough Council.
Hurtt submitted his resignation letter to borough officials, expressing his regrets that he couldn't continue to serve on borough council.
Council president Sue Lombardi said that Hurtt has moved out of Oxford Borough, and as a result he is no longer eligible to serve on borough council.
Lombardi said that she appreciated the effort and time that Hurtt put into serving on borough council.
Council vice president Peggy Ann Russell added that it was sad to lose Hurtt as a council member.
Hurtt is a Democrat who was elected to borough council in November of 2017. His term began in January of 2018 and runs through 2021.
On Monday night, Oxford Borough Council formally accepted the resignation—and acted quickly to appoint a replacement.
Council member John Thompson made a motion to appoint Randy Grace to fill the vacancy. Grace is a former council member and a business owner in town. Council member Ron Hershey seconded the motion to appoint Grace to fill the vacancy.
During the discussion that followed, several coucil members, including Russell and Amanda Birdwell, said that while they might support the appointment of Grace, they thought it best to wait on making an appointment so that others in the community had an opportunity to apply to fill the vacancy. It was an issue of fairness, they said.
Those who supported making the appointment right away noted that Grace brought experience to council at a time when it is needed. Lombardi and Thompson, two of the more experienced council members are not seeking reelection, and there will be a lot of new faces on council in the new year.
Additionally, waiting to make the appointment would have required a special meeting because the borough council's next meeting will take place outside the 30-day window for council to act to fill the vacancy.
When the vote was taken, Lombardi, Hershey, and Thompson voted in favor of the appointment, while Birdwell, Russell, and Ketcham voted no because they simply wanted to extend the time for other borough residents to express an interest in the position.
With the initial vote on the motion deadlocked at 3-3, it was then up to mayor Lorraine Durnan Bell to break the tie. Bell said that because of Grace's experience as a council member, and because of his love and enthusiasm for the town, she had no problem with appointing him that night. She voted in favor of the appointment.
Grace, who was in the audience during the meeting, expressed his gratitude for the appointment.
“Thank you for giving me this opportunity. I appreciate it,” he said.
He will be sworn into office in time for the next council meeting and will serve for the remainder of the term.