Three seats on York City Council up for election as Walker, Rivera plan departures

Noel Miller
York Dispatch

Three of the five seats on York City Council are up for election this year — including two without an incumbent running. That could set up a major transition in the makeup of city government.

Of the three open seats, only Council Vice President Edquina Washington will be running for re-election.

Council President Sandie Walker and Councilman Lou Rivera plan to leave office next January. Walker has served on council since 2016 and was elected as president in 2022. Washington, who works as YWCA York's chief impact officer, was appointed to council in 2018 and subsequently elected in 2020, during the same election that ushered Rivera into office.

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Edquina Washington talks with a customer at her Redeemed Queen booth during the Juneteenth York 2021 celebration at Campus Park in York City Saturday, June 19, 2021. President Joe Biden signed a bill on Thursday making June 19 a federal holiday, commemorating the day in 1865 when enslaved people in Texas learned they were free. Washington is a York City Council member. Bill Kalina photo

There's still time for candidates to submit nominating petitions. So far, one York City man has announced his candidacy.

Blade Kline, 26, previously lived in Yorkana, where he served on the Borough Council before moving to York City two years ago. At the time, he was the youngest council member in Yorkana history.

Kline currently works as a research analyst for the state House Democratic Caucus and volunteers for the state and local Democratic Party.

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"I've tried to dedicate my life to serving my community," Kline said, "and this just presented as another opportunity to for me to try and give back and to improve the lives of city residents."

Blade Kline, 26, of York City, is running for a seat on York City council.

If elected, Kline said he wants to create better transparency and accessibility to council and foster a better working relationship between council and the mayor.

"I don't want to be a rubber stamp," he said. "I believe that disagreement is a good thing, but I also don't want to push back against the mayor just for the sake of being combative."

Kline noted the "palpable tension" that appears to exist between the council and Mayor Michael Helfrich.

"We need to be working together," he said, "even if we don't always agree on everything."

In recent years, disagreements over the use of federal COVID aid — among other issues — delayed the passage of York City's budget. In 2021, the budget was passed just before the deadline, threatening a city shutdown. Meanwhile, a group of city residents, including former City Council members and candidates, have challenged Helfrich's ability to serve.

York City Mayor Michael Helfrich photographs Keynote Speaker Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, who represents the 95th Legislative District, as she speaks during the Lincoln Charter School Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dinner at the school in York City, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Kline, who also plans to advocate for lower taxes, said there's room to ease tensions and make city government more accessible to residents.

"I think we have a real opportunity right now, with Democrats taking control of the state House of Representatives, to try and work with our state partners," he said, "and look for some more diverse funding options, not just for our city, but for cities statewide, so that we're not solely relying on our property taxes to balance our budget."

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Candidates like Kline have until 4:30 p.m. on March 7 to submit their nomination petition documents. The voter registration deadline for the primary municipal election is May 1.

Pennsylvania residents can visit https://www.vote.pa.gov/Register-to-Vote/Pages/default.aspx to register to vote. The municipal primary election will be on May 16 for the Nov. 3 election.

— Reach Noel Miller at NMiller3@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @TheNoelM.