12 Feb What Happens If Courtright Resigns
Little is known about the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) raids last month on City Hall and Mayor Bill Courtright’s West Mountain residence. No charges have been leveled in the investigation but the city’s Home Rule Charter provides answers on what happens if Courtright decides to resign.
Under Section 606 of the charter, in the event of the death or resignation of the Mayor “the City Council shall fill such vacancy within thirty (30) days and in the ensuing period the President of Council shall serve as Acting Mayor.”
That means that City Council President Pat Rogan, an ally of Courtright, would take charge of government until a permanent successor is identified.
There is no guarantee that the five members of City Council – Democrats Rogan, Kyle Donahue, Bill Gaughan, Tim Perry, and Republican Wayne Evans – will agree upon a replacement. While the governing body’s level of cooperation has increased remarkably since the days of Mayor Chris Doherty, it is not impossible that they will disagree on who is best candidate to lead the Electric City. If the fail to come to consensus, the matter is kicked to the Court of Common Pleas, who are charged with identifying a qualified candidate to fill the remaining three years of Courtright’s term.
There is also the possibility that Pennsylvania state statute supersedes the city’s local charter. In that case, the document’s provisions are discarded and a special election is held.
Federal agents obtained a search warrant from a judge in order to conduct the January raids. That request must have provided evidence of probable cause that Courtright or others were involved – either directly or indirectly – in the commission of a federal crime.
Courtright, through his criminal attorney Paul Walker, maintains his innocence. Although the Mayor has kept a low profile, Walker wrote in a statement last month, “The Mayor has fully cooperated in the investigation and has answered the questions posed by the Federal Authorities. By its nature, these investigations take time. The Mayor vehemently denies any wrongdoing and is confident that when the investigation is complete he will be exonerated.”