Binghamton City Council has voted to appoint Democrat Rebecca Rathmell to serve as councilmember for the 6th District.

Rebecca Rathmell
Rebecca Rathmell (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
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Rathmell was chosen Friday by the six Democrats who were elected to the seven-seat council in November. She and Republican incumbent Philip Strawn wound up with the same number of votes in the election.

The action taken during a special city council meeting came the day after Mayor Jared Kraham announced he had appointed Strawn to represent the 6th District, which covers part of the city's South Side.

Philip Strawn
Philip Strawn (Photo: City of Binghamton)
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Kraham, a Republican, and the incoming Democratic councilmembers had been unable to reach an agreement on how the 6th District seat should be filled.

During Friday evening's special meeting, 3rd District councilmember Robert Cavanaugh acknowledged "we're in an awkward situation in our first week as the new Binghamton city council."

Cavanaugh said the action being taken by lawmakers followed a "plain reading of the city charter." He said the charter clearly states that city council is to appoint a new member if a vacancy occurs.

Mayor Kraham said in a statement that the city corporation counsel's office, general counsel for the New York Conference of Mayors and outside counsel for the city concluded the authority to make the appointment rests with the mayor under state law.

Kraham maintained that "an unlawful appointment could lead to a costly legal dispute."

City council Democrats issued a statement indicating they welcome resolution of the matter "through the judicial process, with both sides able to present their positions" to a judge.

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Contact WNBF News reporter Bob Joseph: bob@wnbf.com. For breaking news and updates on developing stories, follow @BinghamtonNow on Twitter.

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