Pamela Macklin elected council president
January 2, 2018 — Wilkinsburg council held its reorganization meeting after members took oath of office, those who were elected in fall 2017 and those continuing terms. The borough council now has eight members, Marita Garrett who represented the first ward having resigned to serve as mayor. Council will appoint a first ward resident to return the council to nine members. (Note: Marita Garrett was elected as mayor and also to a four-year council term in the 2017 general election.) The votes to elect the council president, vice president and president pro tempore split along the gender line. The five council members who are women voted for Pamela Macklin for president, Vanessa McCarthy-Johnson for vice-president, and China Lee for president pro tempore. The three council members who are men voted for Patrick Shattuck for all three offices. 5-3, 5-3, 5-3. The first nomination for council president was Patrick; then Pamela was nominated. With no further nominations, the vote was held on whether to elect Patrick to continue as council president. 5 no – 3 yes. Then the vote on Pamela for president. 5 yes – 3 no. Then the first nomination for council vice president was Patrick; then Vanessa McCarthy-Johnson was nominated. With no further nominations, the vote was held on whether to elect Patrick as council vice president. 5 no – 3 yes. Then the vote on Vanessa for vice-president. 5 yes – 3 no. The first nomination for president pro tempore (serves as president in the absence of the president) was Patrick; then China Lee was nominated. With no further nominations, the vote was held on whether to elect Patrick as council president pro tempore. 5 no – 3 yes. Then the vote for China as president pro tempore. 5 yes – 3 no.
My own opinion is that it was small of the men to vote no against the majority, when the first vote had established that the majority was not for Patrick continuing as president. There is no disagreement on the fact that Patrick has brought more grant money to Wilkinsburg than Wilkinsburg was able to get before Patrick was the council president. But Patrick participated in decision-making that marginalized other council members who were in the minority. If Patrick were solving ALL Wilkinsburg’s problems single-handedly, I would want this to continue. The reality is otherwise. No matter how much money comes as grants, it is not enough to make up for so many individuals who see Wilkinsburg as not a good place to invest in homeownership and business. The most significant action council can take to restore lost value for the benefit of the people who have a stake here is to establish policies that get new owners for abandoned properties. Block by block, that will make more difference to the residents than major projects funded by grants. The question is not– who is the single individual who stands out? The question is– who is the leader who works to make it possible for many to contribute to the borough? Painting with a broad brush, which question is more typically male and which is more typically female?
Council president Macklin announced a change to the schedule of council meetings. The planning session will continue to be held on the first Wednesday of the month, except this month it will be held on the second Wednesday, January 10, to allow time for council members to make known their preferences for committee assignments for 2018. The legislative session of council will be held on the third Wednesday of the month, moving from the second Wednesday to the third to allow more time for all council members to understand items coming to the legislative agenda. Committee meetings blight and capital planning will continue to be held on the fourth Wednesday of the month.
Edited 1/3/2018 3:30pm to correct the VP election.
Note: I apologize there is nothing visual in this post. For council member photos, see the official borough website– wilkinsburgpa.gov.