WILKES-BARRE – Christine Jensen promises to be an unbiased voice on the city's planning commission if she is appointed.
"I'll vote the way I think is appropriate, regardless of how Mayor Leighton feels about it," Jensen said. "I will be an independent vote who will always have the best interests of the city at heart."
Jensen, the city's former human resources director, is expected to be named to the planning commission at tonight's city council meeting. Council deadlocked 2-2 at its last meeting, denying Jensen's appointment, but all five council members are expected to be in attendance tonight.
Jensen, who left City Hall last year to become the administrator at Pennsylvania CareerLink on Union Street, said when she retired from her city position she told Mayor Tom Leighton she would be available to volunteer wherever he felt she could help.
"I live here; my kids go to school here," she said. "I want Wilkes-Barre to be a nice place to live."
Jensen said she did research on serving on municipal boards and authorities and found out most prefer members of diverse backgrounds – not just people with specific experience.
Frank Sorick, president of the recently organized Wilkes-Barre City Taxpayers Association, said he has nothing against Jensen and feels she did a good job when she worked for the city. But he questioned Jensen's comments.
"Is she doing stand-up comedy now?" Sorick asked with a chuckle. "I mean she sounds like a funny lady."
Sorick said Jensen's name should not be presented a second time. He said she was voted on and the motion failed, 2-2. Tony George and Maureen Lavelle voted against Jensen and Mike Merritt and George Brown voted for her. Bill Barrett was absent.
Sorick and activist Linda Urban are questioning why Jensen is being given a second chance.
"I guess they feel if at first you don't succeed, try, try again," Sorick said. "Why is council hell bent on getting a former H.R. director on the planning commission? What does the mayor want to shove down our throats now? Why won't the bobble heads consider someone with experience in the field?"
Barrett was absent from the last meeting due to an out-of-town medical emergency. Earlier this week he said he thinks Jensen would be a "great addition" to the planning commission.
City council meets today at 5 p.m. in work session and the regular meeting will immediately follow at City Hall, Fourth Floor, Council Chambers. Public comment is allowed at the regular meeting.