First Latino to serve on Oxford Borough Council01/16/2023 02:59PM ● By Steven Hoffman
The composition of Oxford Borough Council has been changing considerably over the last four years.
For most of its history, Oxford Borough Council was made up of mostly men, but the numbers started leaning in a different direction in 2018 as the borough elected the first female mayor, and the number of female council members rose to three on the seven-person council. In 2020, the women outnumbered the men on council.
Now, in council’s first meeting of the new year, the count remains four women and three men, and for the first time in the borough’s history, one of those men is Latino.
Council unanimously approved a motion to appoint Raul Juarez-Lara Jr. to borough council to fill the council seat left vacant when Mary-Laura Buchner-Hulse resigned. He will be sworn in at the next council meeting on Jan. 23 and he will serve for the remainder of the term until January 2025.
Council has repeatedly said they needed a more diverse council indicative of their diverse community so with a Latino member finally approved, they may finally establish an Advisory Council of Latino Affairs (ACOLA).
Latinos make up over 30 percent of the population of the borough and council members continue to move forward in forming a group where the Latino voice can be heard. And they do not plan to stop there, but continue to seek inclusion of other ethnicities, races and cultures on the council.
In other business, council approved the following:
- A hearing and motion to adopt an ordinance amending chapter section 2003 pertaining to certificates of use and occupancy, and section 27-202, definitions related to establishment of a non-residential use of occupancy requirement.
- A motion to approve a master service agreement and statement of work between the borough and CivicPlus to make improvements to the borough website, inclusive of the first year fee of $22,645.94 and an annual recurring fee, beginning in year two, of $5,351.88.
- A motion to approve a resolution for the official appointments of certain borough employees.
- A motion to approve resolution for the appointments of various borough officers and other annual designations.
- A motion to approve a resolution designating emergency service providers for the borough.
- A motion to authorize advertising the 2023 meeting dates.
- A motion to reappoint Richard Nelson and Ronald Hershey to the Oxford Planning Commission for terms extending from 2023 to 2026.
- A motion to appoint Bethany Atkinson as Vacancy Board chair (One-year term).
- A Motion to approve BBD, LLC’s proposal to provide audit services for the Borough for the year ending December 31, 2022, with the option to renew through the year ending December 31, 2024.
- A motion to approve a certificate of appropriateness application for 38 S. Third Street conditioned upon zoning approval.
- A motion to approve a certificate of appropriateness application for 19 N. Third Street.
There was an update on the Subdivision and Land Development and Zoning Ordinances Revision – the plan is to have a kick-off meeting in February with the group handling this.
There was also an update from the Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs (ACOLA) Working Group. The first meeting is planned for February before the Borough Council meeting. Council member William Fitzpatrick is hoping for a well-attended meeting. During that meeting, goals will be set for the commission.
Council also discussed the including Juneteenth as a designated borough holiday. Council is inclined to include that when negotiating contracts. Also, discussed was the Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. request for temporary signage on lampposts in the Business Improvement District.
Council member Peggy Ann Russell informed everyone that January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month.
Council member Robert Ketcham also acknowledged his appreciation of the borough staff and their work on the budget.
The next council meeting will be held on Jan. 23.
SLUG: Appointment Oxford Borough Council