Mount Holly Springs borough residents have until 4:30 p.m. Monday to submit letters of interest to fill the unexpired term of P. Scott Boise, former mayor of Mount Holly Springs.
Council members Monday accepted the resignation of Boise, who was serving his second year of his second term as mayor. Council President James Collins II is acting mayor until a replacement is appointed.
Boise submitted his resignation letter to council member Deborah Halpin-Brophy prior to the April 25 workshop meeting, said Tom Day, borough manager and police chief. Halpin-Brophy chairs the administrative, finance and budget committee.
Halpin-Brophy read aloud Boise’s resignation, which was effective May 13 for personal reasons. Boise had recently retired from his job and wanted to spend more time at his vacation home on the Delaware coast where he enjoys boating, Day said.
Stays in Delaware would take Boise away from his mayoral duties for up to six months at a time, Halphin-Brophy said. She said Boise would no longer be readily available in case something happened or if there’s a need to break a tie on a council vote.
Since the effective date was May 13, the council waited until this past Monday to officially accept the resignation letter. Their decision sets in motion a state mandated 30-day timeline to appoint a replacement.
To qualify as mayor, a person must be a borough resident for at least a year and a registered voter. Letters of interest must be submitted to the borough office at 200 Harman St. prior to the close of business May 20. The email for Tom Day is email@example.com, and the email for Sara Jarrett, borough secretary and treasurer, is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The letters received would be forwarded to Halpin-Brophy and her committee for review prior to the May 30 workshop meeting. The council may then hold public interviews of the candidates, Halpin-Brophy said.
Debate over process
There was debate Monday over how to fill the vacancy by the June 13 deadline. Councilwoman Katie Daniels made the motion to post the vacancy on the borough website and then vote on a replacement mayor at the June 10 regular council meeting.
Daniels wanted to give those interested of time to talk it over with family members before committing themselves. “We have the opportunity to open things up,” she said. “Why wouldn’t we have people have time to consider it?”
But her motion died for lack of a second, prompting Halpin-Brophy Monday to move to appoint Lois Stoner as the new mayor of Mount Holly Springs. Stoner was recently appointed to the council to replace Edgar Kendall, who had resigned after moving out of town.
Rachel Bear of 44 Mountain Road, Boiling Springs, asked the council why the rush to fill the vacancy when she claimed the public didn’t have enough notice of Boise’s resignation.
“I can’t understand what’s the rush,” former Mayor Robert Otto said Monday. In the past, those interested in a mayor vacancy didn’t have to submit a formal letter to be considered, he said. They only had to volunteer and be accepted by council.
At that point, Halpin-Brophy said, “Honestly, the way this is going we need to do something to keep the peace in this community. If we move forward with this [her motion], all hell breaks loose. I guarantee that it will.”
She suggested voting on a replacement on May 30 while giving the public a deadline to submit letters of interest.
The Sentinel contacted Halpin-Brophy on Tuesday to clarify what she meant by “peace in the community” and “all hell breaks loose.” In retrospect, she said she wanted to respect the wishes of the community and thought going forward with her motion would breach the public trust.
At the meeting Monday, councilwoman Cathy Neff supported a May 30 vote to replace the mayor. “It’s the midway point,” she said. “If nothing happens, that gives us two more weeks to figure it out.”
Under state law, if the council does not appoint a replacement mayor within 30 days, the matter goes before the borough vacancy board, which has 15 days to render a decision, Collins said. If the vacancy board is unable to make a decision, the matter goes to the state to fill the vacancy.
Role of mayor
Council on Monday heard from Kelly Stanley who grew up in the borough, moved away and then moved back about 11 years ago. “My grandfather did a lot for this community,” she said. “I want to do the same thing. I finally have the time and opportunity to step forward and do something for the community. This [being mayor] would be the best way to be part of it.”
If appointed, Stanley said she wants to show people what this community can do and how it can move forward. “There is so much potential in this community to bring it back up to what it used to be,” she said. “It can be that way again.”
Stoner also had some words for council members.
“My husband and I left our business in Carlisle 42 years ago to come to Mount Holly because he was from Gardners and he loved this town,” Stoner said. “We didn’t have a warm welcome.” She said there was a petition from local business owners to keep her business out.
Stoner said her perspective changed after she had the opportunity to work with Otto and other borough leaders. “These people were the ones who helped me see the potential for this town,” Stoner said. “These people have taken over from what the council was like before.
“Instead of criticizing, look at these people and realize they don’t just come to two meetings a month,” Stoner said. “If you want to make a difference in this town, there are three council seats open [this year]. There’s going to be four seats and a position for mayor [in 2021].”
A councilwoman for 22 years, Halpin-Brophy said she has never been more proud of the leadership of the borough. She said a person just can’t walk into a position and start to govern. “You need to know where we have been,” she said. “You need to know how we’ve come up.”
Day said candidates for mayor need to do their homework on what the office involves. Being mayor is more than just a ceremonial role or occasional tie-breaker, Day said. The office oversees the police department, investigates residents’ complaints, updates the council on the performance and activities of the town and helps prepare one of the largest line-items of the borough budget.