Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Former mayoral candidate among 17 seeking seat on Harrisburg City Council

A former city council president and mayoral candidate is one of 17 applicants vying for a seat on Harrisburg City Council.

Gloria Martin-Roberts, who lost last year to incumbent Mayor Eric Papenfuse, has applied to fill a seat formerly held by Cornelius Johnson, who resigned this month to take a new job in Atlanta.

Martin-Roberts served two terms on council, including one as president, before deciding not to seek reelection in 2011. She ran for the 103rd legislative district seat in the state’s House of Representatives in 2012 and lost to state Rep. Patty Kim. Martin-Roberts has also served on Harrisburg’s school board.

She announced her mayoral campaign in November 2016 and received 2,048 votes in the May 2017 Democratic primary. Papenfuse earned 2,663 votes. She also ran a last-minute write-in campaign in the general election.

Martin-Roberts isn’t the only Papenfuse challenger seeking a council seat. Jennie Jenkins, who mounted an unsuccessful mayoral campaign last year, has also submitted an application.

Other hopefuls include Devan Drabik, a former city employee who now works for Visit Hershey-Harrisburg; Airis Smallwood, a musician and daughter of former school board president Jennifer Smallwood; Bill Cluck, an environmental lawyer and local activist who served on the Capital Region Water board when it took over the scandal-plagued Harrisburg Authority; and Joshua Burkholder, a former Democratic congressional candidate who also has previously applied for an open council seat.

Candidates had until noon today to apply for Johnson’s former seat. The Harrisburg city clerk disclosed the full list of applicants this afternoon:

  • Devan Drabik
  • Eric Hicks Sr.
  • Shane Gallagher
  • Chris Yellowdy
  • Danielle L. Bowers
  • Elizabeth P. Hobbs
  • Josiah Yonker
  • Stephen Hickey
  • Damion Scott
  • Joshua F. Barker
  • William J. Cluck
  • Airis Smallwood
  • Gloria Martin-Roberts
  • Lakichia Lee Carrier
  • Joshua Burkholder
  • Jennie Jenkins
  • Aaron N. Holt

City clerk Kirk Petroski said that the city’s Human Resources department will vet all applications starting on Monday. The applicants eligible to serve on council will be invited to an Oct. 3 selection meeting, where each one will be given two minutes to speak before the seven-member body.

Once council members have heard from all applicants, they will nominate candidates to move on to an interview round. A nominee must receive a majority of votes to be appointed to a seat.

The new appointee will chair the Building and Housing Committee and serve through the end of 2019.

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