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READING, PA 19601-3690
DIRECT DIAL (610) 655-6010


April 2, 2019

Reading Eagle Company

345 Penn Street
Reading, PA 19601

RE: Reading Eagle Article Published on April 2, 2019

Dear Sir/Madam:

I am writing to clarify some inaccuracies reported in the Reading Eagle on April 2, 2019
regarding a citizen’s petition to place the issue of term limits on the ballot for the May municipal
election. On January 17, 2019, the City Clerk was presented with a Petitioners Committee
Affidavit to initiate an ordinance that would amend Article I, Section 104 of the City of Reading’s
Home Rule Charter. After review of the document, the City Clerk forwarded the document along
with the draft Initiative Petition, Circulators Affidavit and the Petitioners Committee Affidavit to
the City’s Solicitor’s Office for their review.

The Acting City Solicitor advised the City Clerk that under state law, the City Clerk does
not have jurisdiction to validate the documents under Charter Article 11. The process to amend an
existing Home Rule Charter initiated by petition of the electors requires that the petition be filed
with the Berks County Board of Elections. Accordingly, the citizen was notified by a letter from
the City Clerk dated January 18, 2019 of the proper process to amend the Home Rule Charter.

Also on January 18, 2019, the citizen met with the Acting City Solicitor, Elizabeth Kraft
and Assistant City Solicitor, Fred Lachat, III, who advised the citizen that the City Charter process
on initiatives and referendums is preempted by state law where the Charter Amendment is initiated
by a petition of the electors. The citizen was advised to follow the process under the Home Rule
and Optional Plan Law, was provided a copy of the law, and advised that she may want to seek
counsel to assist her through the process.
Furthermore, as far back as December 3, 2018, the citizen was advised by the late
Councilman John Slifko of the proper process by which her petitions should be filed under state
law and was informed that items for the May ballot must be submitted to the Board of Elections
in February. Again on December 17, 2018, the citizen was advised by Council President Jeff
Reading Eagle Company
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April 2, 2019

Waltman that the Reading City Council does not have a role in the petition process in this particular
instance and directed the citizen to the Berks County Board of Elections.
The citizen’s Affidavit of the Petitioners’ Committee, although delivered to the City
Clerk’s office, was never certified by the City Clerk. This was explained in the City Clerk’s
January 18, 2019 letter to the citizen. With all this being said, the citizen filed her Petitions well
beyond the deadline of February 19, 2019 under the Home Rule and Optional Plans Law. Even if
the citizen’s Affidavit of the Petitioners’ Committee had been certified by the City Clerk, which it
was not, the citizen’s initiative petitions were due 65 days after the certification. The citizen’s
attempt to submit her petitions improperly to the City Clerk came after the 65 day deadline for
petitions properly before the City.
By all accounts, the citizen’s petitions are not certified and timely presented. It is
unfortunate that multiple attempts by City and County officials to point her in the right direction
were unsuccessful. The City of Reading encourages all its citizens to be active participants in City
government and commend the citizen and those assisting in this initiative for their commitment to
their community and the active role each of them play in our City government. However, as public
officials, we must follow proper procedures and adhere to the law.

Very truly yours,

A. Elizabeth Kraft
Acting City Solicitor

cc: City Council
Mayor’s Office
Acting Managing Director
City Clerk