Elected official refuses township seat at swearing-in

AP News
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Posted: Jan 05, 2016 3:09 PM

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — A Democrat who won a seat on a Pennsylvania township's board of supervisors declined to be sworn in to replace the Republican incumbent she defeated.

Colleen Unroe said she doesn't have time for the job in Ferguson Township, and she now concedes she wasn't eligible to take office anyway because she hadn't lived in the township for a year when she defeated Republican Supervisor Drew Clemson in November.

The township and Clemson had sued to keep Unroe from taking office. The township dropped its lawsuit after she refused to be sworn in Monday night.

Clemson claims in his lawsuit, which is still pending, that a Centre County judge should name him as Unroe's replacement because he got the most votes of any legal candidate.

But Unroe's refusal to take office doesn't mean she wants Clemson to keep the seat. On the contrary, she wants the board to pick another replacement.

The unusual situation stems from a write-in campaign that Unroe and two others waged because they were upset with pro-development decisions the previous board of supervisors made regarding the water supply and suburban sprawl in this township near State College.

Unroe and the other write-in candidates who won seats, Peter Buckland and Laura Dininni, opposed the measures because of their supposed impact on the environment and the township's water resources.

Although Unroe legally ran for office under state law, she was forbidden to take office under the township's charter, which requires a year's residency before the election.

Unroe said she tried to find someone to replace her on the ballot or have her name removed before the election, but both failed.

The other township supervisors have 45 days to fill her vacancy. That person must then run for a two-year term in the next municipal election.

"Voters clearly demonstrated they want change," she said.