Philip Strawn has been affirmed as the Binghamton City Council representative for the 6th District.

Justice Joseph McBride issued the Broome County Supreme Court ruling on Tuesday. In his decision, he deemed Strawn to be a "holdover councilperson" following a tie vote in last November's election in which he was challenged by Democrat Rebecca Rathmell.

Philip Strawn in the "Binghamton Now" studio on November 12, 2019. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
Philip Strawn in the "Binghamton Now" studio on November 12, 2019. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)

Strawn was first elected to the council seat in 2019. Mayor Jared Kraham appointed Strawn to represent the 6th District on January 4 based on the state's Second-Class Cities Law.

The next day, the six Democrats on the council held a special meeting and attempted to appoint Rathmell to represent the district based on their understanding of the city charter.

Rebecca Rathmell in the "Binghamton Now" studio on December 22, 2023. Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News
Rebecca Rathmell in the "Binghamton Now" studio on December 22, 2023. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)

Strawn could not be reached immediately for comment on the judge's ruling. Mayor Kraham, a Republican, welcomed the decision. In a statement released by his office, he said the "court order delivers clarity to this matter" and affirms his decision to go to court "to overturn an unlawful action by City Council."

Rathmell said she is "extremely disappointed" by the judge's ruling. In a statement, she said the 6th District "looks significantly different" now than in past terms. She said considering an incumbent or party holdover "completely disregards the rights of hundreds of voters" who lived in other districts "prior to the 2022 gerrymandering."

Rathmell said she will seek the council seat again in a special election to be held in November.

City Council majority leader Kinya Middleton said council Democrats maintain that "a holdover does not exist" in the current case because of the redistricting process.

In a statement, Middleton noted the new 6th District "stretches along the entire length of the Susquehanna River" instead of only the South Side.

Middleton said Democrats are considering their options, including the possibility of appealing the judge's ruling.

Broome County Republicans are planning to meet soon to formally select Strawn to fill the council seat in light of the court decision.

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

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