From twelve to four.

After hearing from each of the twelve candidates who applied for the vacant seat left empty after the death of City Councilor Eugenia Smith, City Council picked four.

They are:

—Michelle Blade
—Jeff Baltimore
—Alex Reber
—Kelly Summerford

Kelly Summerford ran and lost in the last City Council election; he failed to secure a second term. As already opined in this editorial>>> Harrisburg City Council’s Call of Duty: The Candidates for the Vacant Seat<<< his nomination is disappointing. He ran and lost. The people of Harrisburg have spoken. It’s really the only candidate we can actually have a measure of the public’s opinion.

His main self-proclaimed attribute is, “I know the process,” since he was on City Council before. “My votes speak for themselves.”

To the other three–Michelle Blade, Jeff Baltimore, and Alex Reber.Eugenia Smith Chair

Both Michelle Blade and Jeff Baltimore seemed to indicate a very real desire to serve. They each spoke passionately about the city’s children and revealed philosophies that youth education is the key to changing Harrisburg’s bad habits, such as littering and not caring.

“People don’t take enough responsibility for their own neighborhoods,” Blade said who lives in South Allison Hill. She sees that as a primary result of residents being wary of the city’s government. “I know my neighbors don’t trust the system.” Her mission has been to engage the youth and model right behavior.

“I may not know much about the city’s financial situation, but I can learn very quickly what you need me to know,” she declared.

Jeff Baltimore also admitted he didn’t know too much about the current state of the city’s finances. He didn’t even understand that Harrisburg is no longer in receivership.

His expertise seemed to be in the realm of economic development. He proclaimed that economic development is a result of cultural merging. That’s more of when his remarks became remarkable.

He spoke of minority representation and youth engagement. He spoke of establishing models for “young black males,” most especially because he is a father of three. We don’t typically have that perspective on City Council.

So in regard to either of the two black candidates based on the fact that they are a) male and b) black—which I’m confident believing those are characteristics several Councilors are considering—then I pick Jeff Baltimore. He absolutely represents a realistic realm of residents.

However, he has a lack of political experience, as does Ms Blade.

They are not politically savvy or as politically available as both Alex Reber and Kelly Summerford. Although having worked in state and local government before,  Baltimore has a bit more than Ms Blade.

Because this is politics, I believe it comes down to these two—Reber & Summerford with Reber unquestionably the better choice of the options we have (he’s the only Council candidate to have attend the Budget & Finance Committee meeting the night before hence the reason he had the most knowledgeable of the city’s current fiscal state). We’re already passed the line of “what about!” such as Matthew Krupp or Rhonda Mays, who surely should have been in the finals.

Which leads back to who did make it—Michelle Blade, Jeff Baltimore, Alex Reber, and Kelly Summerford.

That’s four.

There are six nominators. That means 3 councilors possibly nominated the same person.

Who was it? Who is it that already potentially has three votes?

That’s the person, whether best qualified or not, who may already be in the running.

The vote is during a Special Legislative Session, Monday, May 12th at 5:30pm. After the vote, which must be majority (therefore, if 3-3 occurs, then the vote takes place until majority wins) the new Councilor will immediately be sworn in. The public is welcome to attend. In City Council Chambers, City Hall.

Tara Leo Auchey

Tara Leo Auchey

Creator & editor of today's the day Harrisburg, started in 2009. Resident, engaged citizen, community activist, teacher, strategist, writer.
Tara Leo Auchey