Letter to the Editor: Everyone of us is charged with protecting American government
As we approach the November 3 Election Day, registered voters residing within Wilkes-Barre City, Luzerne County, and Pennsylvania at large will be heading to their specific voting places to elect or reelect numerous public officials.
Since I am a candidate for elected office at our Wilkes-Barre City Hall for City Controller as well as for city council in District D, I have been visiting our city families and businesses, informing interested voters what the city hall elected offices manage and asking for their votes. Many voters and, especially, new residents, former voters, or first-time voters I find are interested in discussing the powers and duties of our city hall elected officials. It isn’t uncommon for candidates to campaign for two offices related to one purpose.
For registered voters residing within the boundaries of Wilkes-Barre City, we will be electing a new mayor, a new city controller, and also electing or reelecting city council members on November 3. Per our city charter we are to elect a mayor, city controller, and certain council members every four years. Our city council members represent — and are to work cooperatively for — the five districts (sections) A, B, C, D, and E. All elected seats are salaried and come with a host of available benefits that can be taken or refused at any time. Pensions are also applicable after being elected for a second term. You have every right to ask any candidate about the salary, benefits, and pensions, and for a candidate’s reason for seeking office, as well as their educational, private sector employment, and government experience.
The mayor of our city is considered the chief executive officer, with the city controller being empowered with auditing, examining, and verifying all financial books associated with city business like accounts, contracts, purchase orders, invoices, payrolls, and claims. The city controller is responsible to submit reports to the mayor and city council records deemed in violation of law and prepare and submit to the mayor and city council a complete financial report every fiscal year. You have the right to examine these documents.
All administration and legislative department activities are the responsibility of the city controller.
Our city council is the legislative branch. They are responsible for the laws of our city by approving or transacting city business under the Wilkes-Barre City Charter and administrative code set by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the United States federal government. The city council may act by adopting resolutions, ordinances, or motions during public meetings. They meet about twice a month on Thursday evenings at 6:00 p.m. for a public meeting at city hall. You are permitted to comment at the council public meetings for five minutes by completing a short document.
The only two full-time elected positions in Wilkes-Barre City government are mayor and city controller, and there are no restrictions concerning a city hall elected public servant holding private sector jobs while they are in office. Some of our city elected do work elsewhere while serving, or are retired from a private sector job or a publicly funded position.
Before you go to your voting location on November 3, or vote from home as an absentee voter (military, handicapped, disabled, long term/personal care, or otherwise unable to physically get to your specific voting location for valid reasons), I urge you to know whom and why you are electing a candidate. Know that when you elect a candidate for a full-time job that they will indeed perform full-time and not engage in conducting a business or working at another job while on our city payroll and collecting taxpayer-funded benefits. Ask your candidates about the offered salary, benefits, and pensions, because we are funding them with our tax dollars.
If you desire to participate in electing the best candidate for our city elected positions, whether Wilkes-Barre City, Luzerne County, or Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and need to register to vote, to update your voter registration, or to vote by Absentee Ballot from where you are residing, you may contact our Luzerne County Voter Services at (570) 825-1717 for information, or go to www.VotesPa.com. You must be 18 years of age or older on or before Election Day in order to register, and be a citizen of the United States. Incarcerated individuals are not permitted to vote.
Voter registration closes for new registrations and updates one month prior to the May primary and the November general election. Your voter registration card should list where you are to go to cast your ballot. In closing, if you desire to help to encourage and acquire good government, the only way to do so is to elect the most ethical, informed, and dedicated candidates.
Everyone of us is charged with protecting American government, and it begins at your local voting/polling location.
Linda J. Urban
Candidate for Wilkes-Barre City Controller and City Council, District D