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.
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 (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 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!