If it were up to her, Carol Hill-Evans would let a certain York City Council member keep his seat.
Michael Helfrich is "exactly the kind of person that we need on city council," the kind of guy who asks tough questions and makes thoughtful decisions, Hill-Evans said.
Though she's the council president, Hill-Evans has no say in whether Helfrich, 42, will continue sitting two seats to her left every other Tuesday for the next four years.
Reluctantly, however, she has found herself considering who might replace him.
York County Common Pleas President Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh will rule in the not-so-distant future on the merits of York City Mayor Kim Bracey's petition to oust Helfrich. Bracey and city
solicitors contend Helfrich is constitutionally ineligible for public office because he was convicted of two felony drug crimes in 1991.
A hearing on the issue was held last week.
Replacement? If Linebaugh sides with the city, his decision would trigger a 30-day process to select a new York City Council member.
When there is a vacancy on the council, a majority of the remaining council members must agree on a replacement within 30 days, according to the city's administrative code. That person would hold the seat until the next municipal election, at which time the voters would decide who completes the rest of the term.
The code also states that if council members split evenly while selecting a replacement, the mayor may cast the tie-breaking vote.
If for whatever reason the vacancy is not filled within 30 days, it is up to the York County Court of Common Pleas to appoint someone.
While she has had no formal discussions, Hill-Evans said she has some potential replacements in mind. She's hopeful other council members have also given the issue some thought.
"The minute that that announcement is made -- if that announcement is made -- we need to get in touch with these people," she said.
'The right candidate': More than 1,000 people voted last year for Helfrich. It was a narrow victory over a longtime councilwoman made even more dramatic by the fact that Helfrich's name wasn't even on the ballot. He'd campaigned for write-in votes -- and won.
Hill-Evans, whose campaign collaborated with Helfrich's last year, said she hopes Helfrich is allowed to remain on the council.
"He still is the right candidate for the job," she said. "The citizens knew what he did. And yet they put forth the energy to write him in. That is huge. It's just huge."
Hill-Evans said she intends to move quickly and transparently if Helfrich loses his seat. But to do anything now, she said, would be "premature."
"I'm just waiting for the final verdict. The minute the judge says yes or no, then everything has to be set into motion," she said. "And, of course, it has to go very fast."
-- Reach Erin James at 505-5439 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ydcity.