The final countdown:
York County President Judge Stephen P. Linebaugh ruled in August that York City Councilman Michael Helfrich could keep his post despite felony convictions.
“It certainly seems like the fact that the public knew who they were electing and knew about my past — that I was honest about my past and that the will of the voters was to still have me in office — seems to be a key to his decision,” Helfrich said at the time.
Helfrich, who pleaded guilty to two felony counts of possession with intent to deliver in 1991, was elected to city council in November 2011, beating longtime Councilwoman Toni Smith. Shortly after that, attorneys for York Mayor Kim Bracey argued in a complaint that his crimes should prohibit him from serving in office.
Bracey did not appeal Linebaugh’s decision.
Stephen Stetler, a former state representative and revenue secretary from York, was convicted on public corruption charges in June for using House staffers and resources to work on fundraising and campaign activities while they were on state-paid time.
Stetler, who took the stand in his own defense and maintained his innocence, was the last of 25 people to go to trial as the result of a state attorney general’s investigation into the state legislature that started under now-Gov. Tom Corbett in 2007.
Ahead of his sentencing in September, movers, shakers and community leaders from throughout York County, southcentral Pennsylvania and even out of state wrote letters for Stetler, asking Dauphin County President Judge Todd Hoover for leniency.
Hoover said he considered those letters when he sentenced Stetler to 18 to 60 months in prison. Stetler began serving that sentence in October in York County Prison.
Eugene DePasquale and other Democrats running for office statewide swept the elections in November.
“He’s the first York countian to be elected to statewide office in 58 years. That’s truly huge,” Bob Kefauver, chairman of the York County Democratic Party, said recently.
DePasquale, a West Manchester Township resident whose district includes York, was first elected to the state House in 2006. He’ll be sworn in as auditor general in January, which will lead to a special election for his state House seat.
G. Terry Madonna, a pollster and political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, said anyone who becomes state attorney general, auditor general or treasurer in Pennsylvania has to be considered a potential future contender for governor or U.S. senator.
2. When U.S. Rep. Todd Platts, R-York County, decided to not run for re-election, he kicked off a crowded primary.
The York County GOP did not make an endorsement in the congressional race, which York County Republican Committee chairman Bob Wilson said has been the local party’s practice in recent history.
“And because of that, the floodgates were opened,” Wilson said recently.
Then-state Rep. Scott Perry, R-Carroll Township, York County Commissioner Chris Reilly, attorney Sean Summers and four other Republicans vied for their party’s nomination.
“They all added a unique element to the picture,” Wilson said.
Perry ran on his business background, his military experience and work in the state legislature. And he beat out his six opponents, winning 53.5 percent of the vote.
In November, he won 59.7 percent of the vote against Democrat Harry Perkinson and two other candidates. He will be sworn in Jan. 3.
1. (Drum roll)
The reason why Scott Perry ran for Congress is our story of the year: The decision by U.S. Rep. Todd Platts, R-York County, to not seek re-election.
“I’ve always believed in my heart turnover is a good thing,” Platts said at a news conference in January.
Platts, an advocate for term-limits, was first elected to Congress in 2000. During his time in Congress, he lived in York County and would drive back and forth to Washington, D.C., for votes and other business. He made a point of not accepting money from political action committees. And he had a reputation for avoiding strident headlines and bitter partisanship.
Platts has said he’s not sure what he’ll do once he leaves office.
He said he’s considering continuing to work in Washington, D.C., most likely in a position related to education or military policy. He’s also thinking of working in higher education or running for York County Court of Common Pleas judge.