YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — The city of York’s mayor was in court Thursday for an unusual hearing — so unusual that as far as anyone can remember, this is the first time this has ever happened in Pennsylvania.
York Mayor Michael Helfrich walked into the Court of Common Pleas Thursday morning accompanied by his lawyer, Glenn Smith. They were in the courtroom of Judge Clyde Vedder to decide whether Helfrich really is the mayor.
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A group of 18 people filed a suit saying that Helfrich took his oath of office too late after he was re-elected. They also say Helfrich didn’t properly fill out required paperwork confirming he lived in the city of York for at least a year.
A city solicitor has previously said Helfrich didn’t really need to take the oath of office at all. His position is that under city charter, the oath of office is important when someone is elected the first time but is just ceremonial when they are re-elected. But City Solicitor Jason Sabol wasn’t allowed to represent Helfrich in court.
City council president Sandie Walker hasn’t replied to messages from abc27 News seeking comment about that decision.
Smith, the lawyer who did represent Helfrich, said he felt the hearing went well. So did the plaintiffs’ lawyer.
“We are confident in the position we shared with the Court today and appreciate Judge Vedder’s prompt attention to this matter, and that he views this matter as urgent,” Justin Tomevi, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, told abc27 News in a statement. “The law enacted by the General Assembly is clear about the obligations Mr. Helfrich had, and my clients hope the Court enforces that mandatory language.”
Helfrich said the only reason he didn’t take the oath in early January — when he was away on vacation and then at a conference in Washington, D.C. — was because of the solicitor’s advice that he didn’t have to.
“I’d never trade three days of vacation or a week of vacation for the honor of serving the people of York,” he said.
The hearing was adjourned shortly after noon on Thursday without a final decision.