“Democracy denied!” was the complaint of some residents of Yeadon Borough after Council filled a vacancy at last week’s meeting, appointing a person who was not the crowd favorite.
“It’s a slap in the face to the will of the people,” said former state Rep. Ron Waters, who was there and whose sentiments echoed others’ attending.
At the session four people were considered for the Council seat left vacant after Nelva Wright’s resignation. The former councilwoman moved out of the borough. The three known nominees were Michael Allison, Dr. Vivian Ford and Charles Wilkins, a trio of political experience and party diversity.
Most of the community and three Council members supported former Council President Ford. A fourth, lesser known candidate, Renita Austin, was supported by the remaining three members and appointed as Mayor Rohan Hepkins broke the deadlock and cast the deciding vote, prompting a collective, “Who’s that?!” from residents, followed by additional digs at her obscurity. Tensions were furthered heightened when it was revealed that Austin was absent from the meeting.
“How can you vote (for) a person no one knows and who did not show up?” one councilwoman reportedly asked.
Penny McDonald, head of the Yeadon Democrat Committee, challenged Council’s decision.
“As a Democrat, you did not listen to the community and ignored the democratic voting process,” she prefaced before a harrowing reminder. “There will be five seats open in two years — mayor and Council — we’ll make sure of that; it’s nothing personal; it’s politics.”
With his colleagues and constituents at odds, Hepkins took to social media, using Next Door, a neighborhood-based outlet, in a 10-paragraph write-up with six links used for support, Hepkins outlined the reasons for his decision.
“I want to explain my vote… in more detail since I was specifically asked by some residents and… accused of disloyalty and therefore felt compelled to respond…,” Hepkins began.
He explained having a good, 20-year rapport with Ford, but maintains that her political persona is separate from her “private citizen” persona. He said her tenure as Council president was “tumultuous and controversial.”