Reading City Council begins new year with new member

READING, Pa. - Five Reading City Council members took the oath of office Tuesday evening: John Slifko, District 6; Donna Reed, District 5; Stratton Marmarou, District 1; Jeffrey Waltman, president of the council; and the only new face, Lucille Sihelnik, District 1.

"Fellow members of council and the administration, we have work to do," Slifko said. "With great effort, we will exit Act 47 within the next two years, but that is not enough. It is not enough, simply to pay our bills and leave the larger questions unanswered.

"After two years, what will our city government have left behind? What better services will we be providing for the everyday needs of our citizens? What will we be doing to make our city more attractive, both to its present residents and those seeking to move and do business in our city? What new developments and vitalization will occur?"

Slifko said he has four goals for the next two years:

  • A comprehensive housing strategy.
  • A focus on immediate concerns of Reading's neighborhoods, such as parking needs and an increase in security cameras.
  • A new structure for downtown development.
  • An adequate staff for planning and economic development.

"This is a tall order," he said, "but it is what we were elected to do."

Reed listed some of the accomplishments that were the result of council's policy and project decisions that have helped revitalize the city: the Santander Arena, the DoubleTree Hotel, the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts and a modernized wastewater treatment plant.

"It is not lost on me that most of us have had a seat here for a long time. The first time I was sworn in, my son was 10. Today, he's nearly 27 with a son of his own," said Reed, who is now in her fifth term.

"I always hoped that each of us was doing it for the right reasons: to advocate for those we represent and to serve as the checks and balances for the administration. We've seen, unfortunately, in the past few years what occurs when public service is mistaken for power and personal gain."

"I don't specifically have any goals or agendas beyond supporting, uplifting, and encouraging the people, the places, and the economic development that we can strive for here in our city," said Sihelnik, who replaced Christopher Daubert in District 1, "but I encourage you to share with me your concerns and your solutions because I'm here to listen and to work on those with you."

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