ALLENTOWN, Pa. – Allentown City Council on Wednesday night approved ordinances that will direct the Lehigh County Board of Elections to place three referendum questions related to the city's Home Rule Charter on the primary ballot in May.
If approved by voters, the first item would allow the city to extend the geographic limits of the Allentown residency requirement for city heads of departments, offices and agencies.
Currently, the Home Rule Charter requires that such heads reside within the City of Allentown within one year of appointment. The question posed to voters will ask whether that rule should be amended to require such individuals, at the time of appointment, to reside within five miles of the city's borders.
A second referendum question asks voters whether the Home Rule Charter should be amended to allow city council to appoint legal counsel to serve as its own council solicitor for legal advice. As it stands, only the mayor is permitted to appoint a city solicitor, who is also head of the legal department and serves as chief legal advisor to the mayor and all city departments and agencies.
The final question would ask voters to authorize and permit the city controller to initiate and conduct all manner of audits, including performance audits, without first being requested to do so by the mayor or city council.
Council passed all three ballot questions unanimously. The primary election is scheduled for May 18.
In other news, council elected Julio Guridy as president and Cynthia Mota as vice president.
The vote for Guridy was 6-0, with Councilwoman Candida Affa non-responsive to City Clerk Michael Hanlon's roll call inquiry.
"During my presidency, everyone will have a voice," said Guridy via a phone call. He also thanked outgoing President Daryl Hendricks for his objectivity and service. "I'm looking forward to 2021 being a great year."
Mota's nomination was approved 4-2. Hendricks also attempted a bid to become vice president. However, it failed by a 2-4 vote.
"Together, we will lead Allentown past its challenges and create real change," said Mota, also on a phone call, after her vice presidential selection.
Prior to Guridy's vote, Hendricks read from a prepared statement.
"I think it is ironic we have these three candidates for office, and two of them are not present," Hendrick said of Guridy and Mota — neither of whom was present in council chambers Wednesday night. Echoing this sentiment was Affa.