Symbolically speaking, six seats were empty when five volunteers voted earlier this week to fire the executive director of York City's Human Relations Commission.
One commissioner was absent. But the other five seats represent vacancies on a board that's been mired in controversy since November.
Months of meetings culminated Monday in Stephanie Seaton's firing, a decision based at least in part on a private attorney's review of her casework and reports dating back three years. The report has not been released to the public.
Ralph Serpe, the commission's acting chairman, said Wednesday that the commission's top priority now is to fill its vacant seats.
"We need people to step forward who are committed to upholding the ordinance and civil rights in York City," he said.
York City's ordinance, which empowers the commission to investigate allegations of discrimination, authorizes 11 members. Commissioners are appointed by the mayor and approved by the York City Council.
Serpe became acting chairman after former Chairwoman Dolores Abreu resigned in December. Abreu's resignation followed several others throughout 2012.
One of the remaining members, Cindy Mitzel, is serving despite a technically expired term. The other remaining commissioners are Victor Brown, Tanisha Silvagnoli, Phyllis Dowling and Theodore Miller. Miller did not attend Monday's meeting.
People interested in serving on the commission - or who know someone who might be interested - should call the office at (717) 846-2926, Serpe said.
"The goal is to get back to 11 and also to develop a deep bench for future commissioners," he said.
Then, Serpe said, the full commission "needs to look at staffing based on the needs of the commission to enforce the ordinance."
"All options are on the table," he said.
The commission is currently staffed with one person, an administrative intake support specialist who cannot investigate complaints.
Since November, when Seaton was placed on paid administrative leave, 12 cases have remained open and unresolved, Serpe said.
Residents who have called or stopped by the office with new complaints since November have been referred to the state Human Relations Commission or other agencies, he added.
"The board has to decide what process we'll use to help move those cases along," Serpe said.
- Erin James may also be reached at email@example.com.