EDITORIAL: Good first step for Helfrich after public lashing

York Dispatch Editorial Board
York City Council Mayor Michael Helfrich responds during a town hall meeting concerning his hiring of Blanda Nace as chief opportunity development officer, Monday, June 24, 2019. 
John A. Pavoncello photo

Last month’s public meeting about York City Mayor Michael Helfrich’s hiring practices was almost painful to watch.

Not only were his allies few and far between, the first-term Democrat appeared genuinely surprised by the salvo of criticism.

Helfrich couldn’t seem to grasp why, if he appointed a well-qualified economic development guru to a newly created position, people would be upset that he didn’t ask City Council to approve that person — or anyone else — as chief opportunity development officer.

He also apparently had a hard time wrapping his head around the fact something like his penchant for “acting” department heads, which don’t require the council’s blessing, could be both legal and inappropriate.

The disconnect was jarring.

Clearly, it was all about transparency, yet the mayor didn’t seem to get it — at first.

More:In controversy's wake, Helfrich looks for tonal reset

More:York City Council members, citizens, judge and more blast Mayor Helfrich at town hall

Last week Helfrich showed the criticism hadn’t fallen on deaf ears. He held a town hall meeting detailing plans big and small to enrich York City residents’ lives, earning kudos from residents and council members alike.

"I applaud the mayor," said Councilman Michael Buckingham. "They're absolutely trying to reach out on a more efficient basis. The mayor's always had his Monday morning videos, but to reach out to the community as a whole like this is a really good step."

We agree, and we’re glad to see the administration has similar meetings scheduled later this month and in September.

However, as Buckingham noted, the mayor is just starting to reengage with the community.

A good next step would be to nominate a permanent business administrator and a permanent director of community and economic development.

There is no justifiable reason for leaving those important roles unfilled.

The mayor should look far and wide for the best candidates and then sell them to the council and community.

Why, there might just be some other good ideas for the positions, if Helfrich would only ask.

Taking a good idea and making it better? That’s genius.

And you can’t do that with plans kept under a hat.