Swearing-In of Public Officials for Centre County and Bellefonte Borough Council

Every two years, Bellefonte Borough elects about half of members of the nine-member council and every four years, we elect our Mayor.  This year, five people were elected to four-year terms on council and one person was elected to a two-year term to fill a position that was vacated by a former council person. In addition, this was the year we elected our Mayor.

Their terms start on Monday, January 1, 2018.  But since January 1st is a national holiday, the county decided to hold the swearing-in ceremonies for the county-wide offices and for Bellefonte Borough on Friday, December 29, 2017.  We hold his joint swearing-in ceremony at the same time because the county seat is located in our borough of Bellefonte.  All of the other municipalities hold their own ceremony.

I was sworn into office two years ago but decided to attend today’s ceremony in honor of my fellow colleagues. I was able to snag a front-row seat and was, therefore, able to record each of their oaths of office.

The program started at 9 am.  As people entered the courtroom, we were each handed this program listing all of the participants and the oath of office.

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There were six people sworn into county-level offices by the four currently seated judges on the Court of Common Pleas.

Retiring Judge Thomas Kistler administered the oath of office to President Judge Pamela Ruest who retained her position for another ten years. She is the first female to have served as a Centre County Judge and is now the first women to hold the position of President Judge. Once she took her oath of office, President Judge Ruest administered the oath to everyone else.

The county-level officials sworn into office include two Court of Common Pleas judges – one new (Brian Marshall) and President Judge Pamela Ruest as well our new District Justice Casey McClain (D), our new District Attorney Bernie Cantorna (D), and one new (Jason Moser (D)) and one re-elected (Hope Miller (R)) Jury Commissioner.

Most of the new public officials brought their immediate family to stand with them when they were sworn in. One person—Bernie Cantona—invited his entire extended family to stand with him.  I don’t know how many people that was, but it looked like at least 1/3 of the people in the courtroom joined him up front when he was sworn in as the new District Attorney:

District Attorney Bernie Cantorna 20171229_091439

District Attorney Bernie Cantorna (D) and his extended family at the swearing-in ceremony.

Once the County-level officers were sworn in, the judges then swore in Mayor Tom Wilson and five of the six Bellefonte Borough Council Members.  Evan Duffy, the individual elected to the two-year term was not present and will be sworn in at a later date.

Newly sworn-in council members and mayor 20171229_092854

Newly Sworn-in Members of the Bellefonte Borough Administration. Left to Right: Council Member Jon Eaton, Council Member Michael Prendergast, Mayor Tom Wilson, Council Member Randy Brachbill, Council Member Melissa Hombosky, and Council Member Anne Walker.

Meanwhile, here are videos of the Bellefonte members being sworn into office.

Mayor Wilson (R) was sworn into his second term as Mayor.  Prior to being Mayor, he had served as a member of the Council.

The first member of Council to be sworn in was G. Michael Prendergast(D). He will join me in representing Bellefonte’s West Ward.  This is his first term in public office.

Following Mike, Anne Walker (D) was sworn in. She too is a first-time member of the Council and will also be joining me in representing the West Ward.

Melissa Hombosky (D) was next to be sworn in. She represents the North Ward and this will be her first full four-year term; she was appointed to a vacated seat by the previous Council in the spring of 2016 and will now serve a full four-year term.

Randy Brachbill (R), representing the South Ward, was next to be sworn in. He has served several terms on Council and most recently has served as Vice-President of Council. New officers will be elected out our first meeting on January 2, 2018.

Following Randy, Jon Eaton (D) was sworn in. Jon is representing the North Ward with Melissa Hombosky. He is another first-time member of Council.

Evan Duffy (R) will be sworn in on Tuesday, January 2, 2018, for a two-year term. He will be representing the South Ward and will be up for reelection in 2020.

The remaining three members of Council who were not sworn in today will stand for re-election in 2020. They are myself (D) representing the West Ward, Doug Johnson (D) representing the North Ward, and Renee Brown (R) representing the South Ward.

With this new makeup, Bellefonte Borough maintains gender parity with four women and five men serving as council members. With this gender parity, civility now reigns on our council. I agree with Renee Brown; we are now held more accountable to the public. I believe that’s the way it should be. (You can read this article  on gender parity in the Centre County Gazette to see why the women on Council generally feel this way.)

I’m looking forward to working with all of the members of Council—both male and female. Congratulations everyone!

Women’s Law Project Statement: Why We Strongly Oppose Senate Bill 3

A 20-week abortion ban is moving through the PA House of Representatives. This bill, known as SB 3, also criminalizes the D&E form of abortion. It passed the Senate last winter and on December 4, 2017, it passed out of the House Health Committee. It is currently listed on the House Calendar for a vote by the full PA House of Representatives on Monday, December 11, 2017.

If you live in Pennsylvania, take a moment and call your state Representative. Tell her/him that you oppose SB3 and that it is an assault on women’s reproductive rights and health. Then say, “Please vote no this bill, and instead support laws that put women’s health first.”

Here’s a link to an easy-to-use call-in action page. It will link you to your Representative and provide a short message calling for a NO vote on SB 3.  This link is provided to you courtesy of Keystone Progress.

Thanks for your activism.

WLP Blog

PENNSYLVANIA–The Women’s Law Project strongly opposes Senate Bill 3, which passed the state House Health Committee last night by a vote of 16-10, along partisan lines.

“Pennsylvania politicians just advanced an unconstitutional bill that seeks to throw doctors in jail for providing standard medical care for their patients,” says WLP Senior Staff Attorney Susan J. Frietsche. “They are using discredited junk science to justify it, and repeatedly refusing testimony from real doctors, or their constituents. Anyone not seriously alarmed at both the goal and the process here is not paying attention.”

By criminalizing D&E, a common and safe medical procedure, for no medical reason, SB3 mandates substandard care for women. By criminalizing all pregnancy termination after 19 weeks for no medical reason, SB3 would force doctors to refuse standard medical care for patients facing crisis pregnancies, forcing them to carry unviable pregnancies to term, against their will and despite…

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History Shows Disaster of Tax Bill

History appears to be repeating itself. We’re heading towards another economic cliff with this Republican tax proposal. As my husband said this morning, we don’t need or want this devastating tax cut that’s being proposed. And neither does anyone else we’ve talked to.

Nel's New Day

Over a century ago, George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This saying applies to the disastrous tax bill moving through Congress. “The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad” tax raises for the poor and middle class (to paraphrase the title of Judith Viorst’s children’s classic) has passed the House, and another one, probably worse, has moved from committee to the Senate floor after GOP senators were bought off by bribes. Historian Robert S. McElvaine wrote this perspective from the past to illustrate the nation’s future: “I’m a Depression historian. The GOP tax bill is straight out of 1929.” The piece is subtitled “Republicans are again sprinting toward an economic cliff.”

“There are two ideas of government,” William Jennings Bryan declared in his 1896 “Cross of Gold” speech. “There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous…

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