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In first vote, Rivera opposes Nixon as York City Council head

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Lou Rivera takes a ceremonial "Oath of Office" administered by Pastor Joel Folkemer, left, at the start of the first York City Council meeting of the year, Monday, January 6, 2020. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

Lou Rivera, York City Council’s newest member, didn't wait long Monday before rocking the boat at the council's reorganization meeting.

Rivera, founder of Latinos Unidos of York, on Monday, Jan. 6, cast his first votes in front of an unusually packed council chambers. That included breaking with other members by opposing the reappointment of City Council President Henry Nixon to the council's leadership post.

He then voted "no" to reappointing Sandie Walker as vice president, arguing she should be the one holding the gavel at meetings.

More:York City Council to pick chiefs, Rivera takes seat

"Walker is a better representative of the community," said Rivera, the council's first openly gay Latino member, after the meeting. "The community is 80% black and brown, and I think she's younger, more progressive. She brings an energy that's needed in our community."

Nixon is the only white member on the council.

Councilwoman Edquina Washington was also sworn in Monday to a four-year term.

A huge turnout for the first York City Council meeting of the year to see Lou Rivera sworn in, Monday, January 6, 2020. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

Rivera, however, had an unusual experience pledging his loyalty to the U.S. Constitution and the city: He was sworn in twice.

He was first sworn in by pastor Joel Folkemer, of the Union Lutheran Church in York City.

However, after Nixon informed the crowd that the swearing-in was illegal, City Clerk Dianna Thompson-Mitchell had to run through the process once again.

After the meeting, Rivera said his first priority on council is to find a way to address the city's violence. The city had 16 homicides in 2019, matching a 10-year high.

"The violence is my No. 1 priority.  We have to have conversations about that. We can't allow 2019 to repeat itself," he said.

In the May 2019 primary election, Rivera ousted former Councilman Michael Buckingham by 4 percentage points.

The council unanimously voted to keep Buckingham in city government at Monday's meeting, placing him on the city's Sewer Authority Board.

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.