NEWTOWN BOROUGH >> Two departing councilors were recognized at Tuesday night’s Newtown Borough Council meeting for their combined 24 years of service to the borough.
Mayor Charles “Corky” Swartz diverted from his bi-monthly report to present plaques and resolutions to Kevin McDermott and Bob King, both of whom received standing ovations from borough council and the audience.
McDermott, a Republican who was elected to council four years ago to represent the borough’s second ward, lost his re-election bid in November.
In January 2018, McDermott was elected council president in a 3-3 tie vote broken by Mayor Swartz.
Mindful of the fact his election was not unanimous, McDermott pledged to “dig down more than ever” to make sure that everyone on council has an equal chance to express their views and ideas. “We are one Council,” he said at the time. “We are one vote. I'm very much a person of consensus and moving ahead.”
He lived up to his words.
McDermott’s two year term as president was marked by civility, bipartisanship, consensus building and cooperation and saw the hiring of a new police chief, restoration of the Newtown Common and the acquisition of Lot B at the Bird In Hand property on Court Street.
“You have been a tremendous leader. We hate to see you go,” said Mayor Swartz.
During his tenure, McDermott served on council’s Police Committee, Police Pension Committee, Budget and Finance and liaison to the planning commission.
In accepting the plaque and proclamation, McDermott thanked his fellow councilors. “What a group,” he said. “It has been a pleasure and an honor working with you.
“I also appreciate our mayor who has been a great guidance to me,” he continued. “We have great people working for us - Tom Panzer and his colleagues from High Swartz. We have Chief Jim. Wasn’t that smart of us to hire him? Sometimes we do things right. But most of all I’d like to thank borough secretary Judy Musto and treasurer Pat Ours.
“You’re in great hands,” McDermott told his council colleagues and borough staff. “We have two brilliant councilors coming on board. The Borough is in great hands. All the best,” he said.
During his term on council, King focused much of his attention on preservation issues, serving as council’s liaison to the Historic Architecture Review Board (HARB).
He also served as liaison to the borough’s Environmental Advisory Council, the Joint Historic Commission and the Human Relations and the Personnel Committees.
“Robert King has devoted countless hours to make our town a special place,” noted Mayor Swartz.
King, a Republican, was first elected to council in November 1995 and served until Dec. 2007. His most recent term began in Jan. 2012 and ends with the reorganization of borough council in January 6, 2020. King decided not to run for re-election after 20 years of combined service.
“I really enjoyed working on council,” said King. “I joined council with the idea of retaining the borough’s character and continuing the environment of cooperation. I have always found members to be very helpful.
“You’ll be in good hands,” King told his colleagues on council. “It’s a good Borough and I’m pleased I was able to serve.”
With the departure of King and McDermott, the new council will be made up entirely of Democrats.
Joining council at the January 6 reorganization meeting will be newly-elected councilors Robert Swajakos and Susan Turner, who will replace King and McDermott on the six member governing body. They will join incumbent Democrats Tara Grunde-McLaughlin, Nicole Rodowicz, Julia Woldorf and Marvin Cohen.
One of their first jobs will be to appoint new council leadership and to retain or select new legal counsel to represent the borough.
During a special meeting on Dec. 10 council interviewed three law firms for the solicitor’s job including High Swartz, LLP, Flager & Associates, PC, and Rudolph Clarke, LLC. High Swartz is the borough’s current solicitor.
The next meeting of borough council will be its reorganization meeting on Monday, January 6 beginning at 7 p.m. at the Chancellor Center.