King has support to become next Scranton City Council president

Jan. 1—Scranton City Councilman Bill King has the support of his colleagues to serve as the next council president.

Reached Friday, council members Mark McAndrew, Jessica Rothchild, Tom Schuster and Gerald Smurl noted their support for King, who confirmed his interest in serving as president of the five-member council.

Council plans to vote Tuesday to make King president, a role Kyle Donahue vacated when he resigned from council Nov. 30 to assume office as state representative for the 113th House District. Members appointed Smurl last month to fill Donahue's vacant council seat through 2023.

Voters elected King — a former superintendent of the Scranton and Lakeland school districts who currently works as a senior business consultant for the national firm SitelogIQ — to a four-year council term in November 2021. He assumed office in January 2022 and, assuming members make him council president Tuesday, would hold the position at least until council reorganizes in January 2024.

Among other responsibilities, the council president runs council's weekly meetings and has sole discretion in determining if and when a person violates the rules of council, including rules prohibiting personal attacks, name calling and the use of profanity or racial or ethnic slurs. The president also serves as chairman of council's committee on rules.

"I think that I've established myself as ... a good communicator, I'm fairly diplomatic and I talk to everybody on the council, and I truly have the best interest of the city in my heart," King said. "For me, I never feel bad leaving those meetings because I always vote the way that I think is in the best interest of the city, period."

King lauded the professionalism of the current council and noted his "good rapport" with Mayor Paige Gebhardt Cognetti, who he'll meet with weekly as council president.

"I believe that she's doing a good job and trying to improve our city," he said. "And I believe that I can work with her in a collaborative way, and still disagree with her on certain things, and arrive at some type of consensus."

McAndrew, council's vice president, will retain that role and his position as chairman of council's public safety committee. The committee assignment is personally important to McAndrew, whose late father was a city firefighter and whose late grandfather was a city police officer, he said.

Council's Tuesday meeting at City Hall will begin at 6:30 p.m., following a public caucus at 5:45 p.m.

"At the end of the day, I was always taught you want to leave a place in better shape than when you got there," King said. "That's my goal."

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