York Town Square

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York Mayor John Brenner brought order during tumultuous times

In resolving one of the many issues he inherited as York’s mayor, John Brenner tells Hattie Dickson, Lillie Belle Allen’s sister, that ‘we are sorry for your loss’ during a 2005 news conference after the city settled a civil rights lawsuit with Allen’s family. Allen was a victim of the 1969 race riots in York. Brenner said this week that he would not seek re-election next year for a third term. Background posts: Meeting of riot victims brought racial accord, Mayor: ‘We’re going to clean up this site’ and York Charrette or charade?

Time needs to pass before a full assessment of John Brenner’s mayorship can be undertaken.
But clearly his administration signals the importance of a committed and competent mayor of York.
Brenner’s chief legacy may show that he took over the shambles of mayor Charlie Robertson’s administration and ran a semblance of order through racial and financial chaos… .

York Mayor John Brenner and wife, Adrienne, celebrate his re-election win in 2005.
For Brenner took over the city’s helm when York was resolving race riot-era murders that the community should have dealt with 30 years before. And Robertson, a police officer during those riots, was the primary focus of their legal resolution between 2000 and 2002.
Brenner effectively navigated the sensitive aftermath of those race riot trials.
Further, his administration took over a city whose financial books were in disarray under Robertson’s oversight. The numbers are now intelligible, though the bottom line is still shaky. But redevelopment projects under Brenner’s regime – including a new ballpark – provide at least a glimmer of hope.
All this points to the need for someone of at least equal capabilities to take over when Brenner leaves office at the end of 2009.
If such an effective candidate can’t be found, York could lapse back to the rocky 1960s (John Snyder’s tenure) or 1990s (Robertson’s reign) when mayoral incompetence set back the city for years.

Here is Brenner’s place in the lineup of York’s past executives:
Daniel K. Noell, 1887-1893.
George W.S. Loucks, 1893-1896.
Charles W. Brandt, 1896-1899.
Frank Geise, 1899-1900.
Robert Gibson, 1900-1902.
Milton Gibson, 1902-1905.
J. St. Clair McCall, 1905-1908.
Jacob E. Weaver, 1908-1911.
John R. Lafean, 1911-1916.
E.S. Hugentugler, 1916-1928.
Jacob E. Weaver, 1928-1932.
Harry B. Anstine, 1932-1942.
Harvey Werner, 1942-1944.
John L. Snyder, 1944-1948.
Felix Bentzel, 1948-1952.
Howard Eyster, 1952-1956.
Fred A. Schiding, 1956-1962.
John L. Snyder, 1962-1969.
Jesse M. Gross, 1969-1970.
Eli Eichelberger, 1970-1974.
John D. Krout, 1974-1978.
Elizabeth M. Marshall, 1978-1982.
William J. Althaus, 1982-1994.
Charlie Robertson, 1994-2002.
John Brenner, 2002 – present