The Bellefonte Borough Council planned to vote on and appoint a new council member to end Monday night’s meeting, but none of the four candidates earned the necessary support.
Brian Walker received four votes, the most of any candidate, but fell one short of the majority needed for him to fill the council’s vacant seat. Sheila Stever received the second most votes with three. Mike Scott and Claudia Wilson each received one vote.
Stever previously ran against current councilmen Joseph Beigle and Barry Spicer last November. She received the third most votes in the election, leaving her off the council.
Councilwoman Renee Brown said she voted for Stever, because she previously attempted to join the council.
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“I voted for her, because she showed initiative to run for the council during the election and finished with the third-most votes,” Brown said.
Brown asked Stever’s opposing candidates during the borough’s workshop how they heard about the current vacancy and why they did not run for a seat in the last election.
Walker, Wilson and Scott each cited previous time restraints to explain why they did not run in the election. Each candidate also had an opportunity to pitch to the board why they would be a good fit on the council.
The vacancy was caused by Walt Schneider’s resignation on June 30 due to a potential conflict of interest with the council.
“I’m now the building code official for Bellefonte as of July 1,” Schneider said. “In my opinion, depending on who you talk to, there would be a conflict of interest there. In my opinion, it’s much better for me and the council to err on the side of caution, because, really, the person on that seat should be able to be fully engaged with as many things as possible. It was the right thing to do, I think, to step back and have someone else in that seat.”
Schneider said he had a year and a half left on his term.
Joyce McKinley, Centre County’s director of voter registration and elections, said that an appointed council member would serve the rest of the tenure if there was less than two years left on the term.
“If he had a year and a half to go, the council will appoint someone, and whoever is appointed will serve out the rest of that term,” McKinley said. “If it had been last year, and last year was a municipal election, there would have been an election for a new council member.”
With the council at a standstill, the appointment will go to the borough’s vacancy board, which comprises the eight current council members and one resident representative.
Borough Manager Ralph Stewart said David Provan, who previously served on the council, was appointed by the council to the vacancy board in January. Stewart said he has to research how to proceed with the board.
“I have to research the process and put in a call tomorrow to the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs to figure out what to do next,” Stewart said. “It’s just never happened here before, so we have to learn how to do it the right way.”
The council also announced that Don Holderman will take over the day-to-day operations as borough manager while Stewart is on vacation during mid-August.
The council also voted 5-2 to cancel its next scheduled meeting Aug. 18.