Open Interviews in Scranton for Interim Mayor as New Charges are Announced

SCRANTON, Pa. -- New charges have been announced in the corruption scandal in Scranton as City Council holds open interviews for the opening in the mayor's office.

Scranton is dealing with different types of fallout from former mayor Bill Courtright's guilty plea on corruption charges. City Council just wrapped up an hours-long public interview to name an interim mayor to serve the rest of this year.

A total of 14 candidates were interviewed Monday afternoon. City Council decided to make those interviews open to the public.

The only current city official applying to be interim mayor is Councilman Wayne Evans.

"In my heart, I know this is the time, this is the place, for me to be," Evans said.

Evans vowed that he would not run for mayor after serving in the interim.

Some candidates did express political ambitions; others said they just wanted to step in and help their city in its time of need.

"I must tell you, in reality, I'm sad and disappointed that this is how we have to fill the Office of Mayor in the City of Scranton," said Joseph Albert.

"I like the city, and I want to see it prosper. And I see now that you have a problem. I know you're looking for impartiality. I'm not hooked by the hip to anybody here. I didn't grow up here. I love the city, but I'm not connected to anybody in the city," John Drobnicki said.

The applicants ranged from a state lawmaker's chief of staff to retirees, but there was a common theme in the interviews: a desire to restore trust in City Hall.

"The City of Scranton is full of honest, hardworking people who genuinely care about our community," Thom Welby said.

"We are faced with generation after generation of nepotism, cronyism, and corruption. That needs change. We need to work together to change the city's culture of governance and restore the public's trust," Karin Foster said.

Council has until the end of the month to select an interim mayor, but members say they've self-imposed a deadline of Wednesday.

They're tasked with choosing someone to serve until a new mayor can be elected. The interim mayor will serve for about five months.

Council members say they want to choose someone who will not run in the special election in November.

While these interviews were going on, there were new developments in the ongoing public corruption investigation involving former mayor Bill Courtright.

The U.S. Attorney's office announced they'll be charging one of Courtright's close friends.

Courtright admitted of taking bribes from city vendors and contractors looking to do business with the city.

Federal investigators have just announced charges against Edward Weidow, 65, of Scranton, a friend of Courtright's and a volunteer on his campaign. Weidow is charged with lying to investigators. According to court papers, Weidow took cash from city vendors and passed it on to Courtright, but when interviewed by the FBI, Weidow denied doing it.

Weidow is due in federal court in Scranton Tuesday morning to answer to those charges.

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