Council Appoints Exley to Fill Vacancy

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Kirk Johnson and Kim Exley applied to fill the City Council vacancy left by Christian Zavinski's resignation. Exley was appointed to fill the seat through the end of the term. Photo by Brian Hagberg.

WARREN, Pa. – Warren City Council appointed Kim Exley to fill the vacancy on council during a special meeting Monday night.

Councilman Phil Gilbert nominated Exley and all remaining council members carried the nomination unanimously. Exley will serve out the remainder of Christian Zavinski’s term, which runs through Dec. 31, 2021. Exley could serve longer as she is also on the November ballot in the race for a different seat.

The vacancy was created when Zavinski submitted his resignation on April 27. Council accepted the resignation on May 17. Exley was one of two applicants for the open seat, along with Kirk Johnson.

Both applicants were in attendance for the meeting and gave a statement and took questions from council prior to the nomination.

“I am very excited for the opportunity to serve residents,” Exley said. “I am a single mother. I have a daughter Olivia, who is 12, and one of my main reasons for seeking this is because I want to show her that anything is possible.”

Johnson said he was motivated by a duty to apply.

“This issue came up with the council having a vacancy, and I thought I would do my civic duty to volunteer my services to sit on the council until that term has been completed,” Johnson said.

Councilman Doug Hearn asked what issues each applicant was most interested in. Both immediately pointed to the development of Washington Park as a key issue facing the city.

“There is an issue that has sparked my interest and motivated me to throw my hat in the ring, and that is the Washington Park issue,” Johnson said.

Exley added the EMS situation as another critical area of concern.

“I would have to say EMS issues are always very concerning to me,” Exley said. “We want to make sure that the calls are answered and people are staying safe.”

Councilman John Wortman wanted to know what each believed was behind the city’s population decline.

“There’s nothing keeping anybody here,” Exley said. “I think we’re lacking (recreation options) and I think we need to grow on what we already have.”

Johnson pointed to the decline of industry as the primary factor for population decline.

“We were, in my perception, part of the enormous boom area related to timber and oil and gas,” Johnson said. “It was a good golden era but those industries have dropped off.”

Exley will likely be sworn in during council’s regular meeting next Monday.