Getting new life as a council member
George Jennings of Canton and Kyle Wisel of Troy walked out of their respective borough halls last year as former employees.
Next year, they will be walking back in - this time as borough council members, according to unofficial Bradford County election results Tuesday night.
They were two different candidates in two different towns, but their stories were interchangeable, to a certain extent.
In Troy, the unofficial results showed Wisel winning one of four four-year seats on borough council.
After resigning as police chief in late 2011 and then rescinding that resignation, Wisel resigned a second time, for good, in August 2012.
The full-time senior patrolman, Floyd McDonald, also resigned with Wisel. At the time, McDonald cited a "rift" between the police and council. And back when he resigned the first time, Wisel had said the direction in which the borough council had been taking the Troy Police Department greatly diverged with his professional belief of where it should have been.
In Canton, Jennings has a similar story.
Jennings also had a top position at one time, as the borough's street foreman.
But Jennings resigned from the street department in 2012, following a disagreement with council.
Now, he's back, albeit in a different capacity.
As a council member, he will sit at the council table alongside some of the very people with whom he was at odds.
On Tuesday, he was successful in his bid for one of three council seats that were open, according to unofficial election results.
When asked for comment by The Daily Review, a Mansfield University professor commented on how elections can be useful for people in circumstances such as those experienced by Jennings and Wisel.
"A municipal election offers an opportunity for everyday citizens, especially those who felt wronged by the borough council, to take action," said Dr. Jonathan Rothermel, assistant professor of political science at Mansfield University. "They were probably able to organize a core group of supporters, and that makes a significant difference in a municipal election, which generally has low levels of voter turnout."
When asked for comment, Jennings said he "absolutely" felt wronged by council in the wake of his resignation.
"I got screwed," he said.
Jennings, who worked for the borough for 18 years, said he seeks to make some changes because there are "too many political things going on behind closed doors that no one knows about."
In answers to an election questionnaire, he had stated that "there needs to be people on council that will stand up to the borough secretary."
Borough administrator Amy Seeley, the target of Jennings' criticism, provided the following emailed response, when asked for comment by The Daily Review.
"I look forward to continuing to work with Council, current and new, advising them of the regulations, rules and proper procedures for the Borough," she said.
In addition, Jennings said he wants to try to get more business back in town. He said that he doesn't know if he will be successful in making changes, but he will try.
Jennings said he felt that he had "a pretty good chance" of winning, which also influenced his decision to run for council.
He campaigned with Blake Morgan and Andrew Campbell, who were unsuccessful in their bids for council seats. Their business card had the message, "Together we CAN make a difference!"
Campbell's story also has a familiar ring to it.
He was a part-time street department laborer for Canton Borough, and he contends that he was fired, an assertion that the council president had earlier denied.
Jennings, meanwhile, said he believes that a write-in campaign by Chris Thoren drew votes away from Campbell and Morgan.
Wisel had a different reaction to Rothermel's use of the word "wronged." He didn't feel this quite fit his frame of mind when he decided to run for council.
"I don't know if 'wronged' is the term," Wisel said. "I didn't agree with the direction that certain members of council were going with in the community."
He said it got to the point that he "completely disagreed" with the direction that things were headed.
"I'm very excited to serve my community once again in the near future directly," Wisel said. "I thank those citizens for their support at the polls."
Wisel said he is looking at his options for what he seeks to accomplish and is anticipating sitting down with the new council and starting fresh.
What powers will Wisel have as a council member that he didn't have as police chief?
He, of course, has one vote, as do all council members.
And he will be able to provide input as a committee member.
According to council member Krystle Bristol, each council member in Troy serves as the chairman of a committee and as a member of a different committee, except for the council president, who serves as a member on all six committees.
The council president makes the assignments of council members to their respective committees, she noted.
Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.