Russell selected as president of Oxford Borough Council
● By Steven Hoffman
Not only is Oxford Borough Council now comprised by a majority of Democrats, the council is also comprised of more women than men—for the first time in Oxford Borough history. On Jan. 6, Peggy Ann Russell was elected to lead that historic council as its president.
At the reorganization meeting that evening, Phil Harris, who was recently appointed to serve as mayor, was sworn in by District Justice Scott Massey. Harris then called the meeting to order. First on the agenda was the election of a new council president. Russell was nominated for the position by Bob Ketcham and he was unanimously approved. Also unanimously approved were Ketcham, who will serve as vice president, and Amanda Birdwell, who will serve as president pro tempore. Bethany Atkinson was appointed as serve as the chair of the Vacancy Board.
Council did have some discussion about the approval of a resolution of various borough contracts and appointments. Russell explained that she felt the new council members should have a six-month period to get to know the people they would be voting on. Both Hershey and Birdwell were concerned that this included borough manager Brian Hoover.
“I don’t like shortening his contract to six months, since he is also the borough treasurer.”
Borough Solicitor Stacey Fuller explained to council. “Adopting the resolution tonight, approving various appointments and the borough manager would not keep council from shortening or lengthening the contracts after six months. However, approving it would approve an agreement to continue the borough manager’s employment as well as other appointments,” Fuller said.
Council member Mary Higgins agreed that new council members should have time to look at the positions and the duties that were performed.
“We have the fiduciary responsibility to see who we are saying yes or no to,” Higgins said. Council ultimately approved the resolution 6 to 1, with Birdwell voting no.
In other business, Council approved the advertising of the 2020 council and committee meetings. Council approved the reappointment of Michael Dean, Peter Slauch and Tyler Harold to the Oxford Zoning Hearing Board. Reappointed to the HARB (Historical Architecture Review Board) were Carolyn Hess, Scott Moran and Townsend Moore.
Council also added four more committees, to hopefully get more residents involved with the borough. The committees added were: Comprehensive Planning, Environment, Community Outreach, and Diversity and Inclusion.
Russell thanked the outgoing council president Susan Lombardi for her leadership the past four years.
In an interview after the meeting Lombardi said she wished the new council well and hoped they would continue to support those that had supported them over the past years.