YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — Eighteen York voters have filed a petition in the York County Court of Common Pleas alleging that York Mayor Michael Helfrich did not take the proper steps to serve as mayor and, therefore, there is no current mayor of York. They say the court should appoint a new mayor.
This is the latest attempt by opponents of Helfrich to raise questions about the politician’s legitimacy.
The York residents who filed the suit say that Helfrich did not participate in the York City Council’s reorganizational meeting and inauguration ceremony on Jan. 4, 2022, or take the oath of office on or within 14 days of that date. They also allege that he did not submit the proper forms certifying that he was a resident of York city for at least one year before his election.
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Pennsylvania law says, “If an elected official fails to appear at the organization meeting of council to demonstrate the official’s qualifications for office and to take the oath of office…the official must fully qualify for office and take the oath of office within 14 days of the date of the organizational meeting of council.”
The petitioners allege that Helfrich’s failure to meet these requirements should disqualify him from being mayor, and they say the court should appoint someone else to fill the position.
Helfrich took the oath in a livestreamed video on Jan. 24, 2022, the petition says. This was his second time taking the oath — he was first elected mayor in 2017 and sworn into office on Jan. 2, 2018, according to his website.
Documents received by abc27 in February through a right-to-know request showed that York’s Assistant Solicitor Jason Sabol had previously dismissed concerns that Helfrich needed to take the oath of office in early January, saying that Helfrich’s original oath taken in 2018 remains valid until someone else is elected to the position.
Helfrich previously told abc27 that he was told Article 123 of York’s city code cleared him from needing to take a new oath after he was re-elected.
York City Council members first initiated a probe into the oath after receiving “emails and phone calls…expressing concern” around the end of January. abc27’s right-to-know request found that these initial emails and phone calls came almost entirely from former York city council member Cameron Texter, who now lives in North Carolina.
abc27 has reached out to Helfrich for comment on the recent litigation.