Council vacancy filled unexpectedly

A contingent of Bellevue Council members took advantage of the absence of the council president to appoint their candidate of choice to the vacant council seat.

There are two open council seats in the borough’s second ward to be decided in November’s election. One Democrat -- Anthony DiTullio -- and two Republicans -- Michael Kendall and Anya Pikul -- sought nomination in the primary election and will appear on the general election ballot. All three submitted letters of interest in getting a jump start on elected service when second ward representative Matt Senvisky resigned effective July 1.

Letters of interest for the vacancy were due in the borough hall by July 24. At the pre-council meeting two weeks ago, council member Kathy Coder asked whether the vacancy could be filled at council’s regular meeting on July 25. Council president Lynn Tennant Heffley said that the matter was to be addressed at the pre-council meeting on Aug. 8 in order to give all council members the opportunity to review all letters that were submitted.

The decision was shaping up to be a tie-breaker that would be decided by Mayor Paul Cusick, as council’s eight remaining members appeared to be split on who to appoint. Heffley’s absence from Tuesday’s meeting -- chaired by Coder -- changed all that. During the portion of the meeting set aside to discuss the council vacancy, council member Tom Fodi made a motion to appoint Kendall to the seat.

Council members Linda Woshner and Henry Lenard immediately called the move “underhanded.” Woshner asked Fodi to withdraw his motion until it could be considered by all of council at the time already scheduled for a vote. Fodi said that he had reviewed all of the letters of interest and that Heffley should have been present at the meeting.

A 4-3 vote put Kendall into the vacant seat. In favor were Coder, Fodi, Grant Saylor and Vencent Menosky. Opposed were Woshner, Lenard and Tom Hrynda.

Because the appointment was unexpected, no steps had been taken to provide the paperwork necessary for Kendall to be sworn in. He was told to obtain the paperwork and arrange to be sworn in by the mayor or district judge.