Complaint against York City Mayor Michael Helfrich withdrawn
The complaint against York City Mayor Michael Helfrich seeking to bar him from holding office has been withdrawn.
Karen Comery, who represents six York City residents who filed the complaint, said in a statement Monday, Jan. 8, that the complaint had been withdrawn.
"The decision was based on several factors and in no way addresses the merits and/or underlying facts concerning the action," she wrote.
The complaint was filed Dec. 28, just days before Helfrich was sworn in.
Infamous crime: The issue was that no person convicted of "infamous crimes," such as felonies can hold any office in the state. Helfrich pleaded guilty to a felony in 1991.
It's not immediately clear why the complaint was withdrawn. Comery said in an email that she would not be answering questions, and messages left for two of the six plaintiffs requesting comment were not immediately returned Monday night. Phone numbers for the other four could not be found.
A former York County president judge previously ruled that Helfrich's crime didn't prohibit him from serving as a city councilman. That ruling was handed down after now-former York City Mayor Kim Bracey challenged Helfrich's election as councilman in 2011.
He had defeated incumbent Toni Smith, who is one of the plaintiffs in this case, by just six votes in a write-in campaign.
Helfrich's attorney, Chuck Hobbs, said Monday that the 2011 decision shows that Helfrich is eligible for mayor.
"Our position has always been from the beginning, the case has already been litigated ... this has been decided years ago," he said.
Reached Monday night, Helfrich said the complaint being withdrawn was great news, and that it puts "more energy," at city hall.
Now 47, Helfrich was 21 years old when he pleaded guilty to felony drug possession, after he was arrested with a man carrying psychedelic drugs.
Helfrich spent 45 days in York County Prison and was released after his time-served plea when the judge determined “he was not the player in this.”
The six also had asked the judge to grant a preliminary injunction to prevent him from holding office while the matter is litigated, and Common Pleas Judge Richard Renn scheduled a hearing on that request for 2:30 p.m. Jan. 16, according to court filings. That hearing is no longer happening.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.