How Arnold’s mayor could be ousted over Antwon Rose II protest comments

Here’s what would have to happen.

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Rossilynne Culgan / The Incline
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Weeks after she suggested on Facebook that water cannons be turned on protesters demonstrating against the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Antown Rose II, calls are mounting for Arnold Mayor Karen Peconi to be removed from office.

In addition to residential calls for her ouster, members of Arnold’s City Council joined in as well.

Council Member Phillip McKinley on Tuesday called for a motion to send a letter to Gov. Tom Wolf and the state Senate asking them to remove Peconi as mayor, according to the Post-Gazette. The motion passed, 4-0, with Peconi abstaining.

Her Facebook comment conjured, for many, images of civil rights demonstrators being hosed by authorities in the south decades ago. And while Peconi has since apologized, her critics continue to call for her removal.

The Democrat said she has no plans to resign. Peconi was elected mayor in 2015 and is up for reelection next year. An attempt to reach Peconi on Wednesday was unsuccessful.

Asked about the procedures involved in a non-voluntary removal of a local elected official, J.J. Abbott, a spokesman for Gov. Tom Wolf’s office, said state law requires a hearing before the Senate and a two-thirds vote by the Senate before an elected official can be removed by the governor.

Abbott added of the Peconi controversy, “Governor Wolf is aware of the comments and finds them unbecoming of any elected official.”

Under Pennsylvania’s Constitution, possible grounds for the removal of elected officials, like mayors, include “conviction of misbehavior in office or of any infamous crime” — usually this refers to crimes of fraud, embezzlement or bribery — and the more generic “reasonable cause.”

Article 6, Section 7 of the Pennsylvania constitution reads as follows: “All civil officers elected by the people, except the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, members of the General Assembly and judges of the courts of record, shall be removed by the Governor for reasonable cause, after due notice and full hearing, on the address of two-thirds of the Senate.”