Sonya Arrington won’t run for re-election – Something good happened in Erie, 3/14/2019

Without further ado, your Idiotville feel-good story of the week:

The whole purpose of this weekly feature is to interrupt your usual diet of bad news stories with one thing to make you smile. This week’s feature might not be so obviously positive, so I’d like to explain.

We at Idiotville believe strongly in the responsibility of elected officials to uphold the public trust. Just as more is expected from the captain of a team, elected leaders should be held to a higher standard. It’s not enough to not be a criminal; you need to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

Sonya Arrington has, well, not met that standard. I take no joy in writing that. Making the decision to enter public life and run for something – anything – is a hard thing to do and Arrington’s path to public service was one no one could have predicted.

Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane. In 2010, Arrington’s son, Steve, walked out of a convenience store at the age of 19 and was shot five times in the chest. He died right there in the parking lot. So, Sonya went through something no one should ever have to go through.

She could’ve spent the rest of her life angry and bitter, but she got to work trying to change the culture of violence in our community instead. She formed Mothers Against Teen Violence (MATV) to “help youth think, act and live positively.” She also holds an annual vigil to promote non-violence on the anniversary of her son’s death.

Her work at MATV raised her profile to the point that in 2015, she was elected to the city council. She is now the city council president. So far, so good, right?

Not according to the FBI. They charged Arrington in 2018 with 33 felonies, alleging she had scammed $70,000 from the foundation she founded in the wake of her son’s death. She appears to have blown all this money at the Presque Isle Downs & Casino. I don’t need to tell you this is an unbelievably gross thing to have done.

Still, Arrington has maintained her innocence (despite apparently confessing to at least some of this activity on an FBI recording) and kept her place presiding over city council meetings as its president for nearly a year while under federal indictment. This was untenable from the beginning, and will apparently be brought to a merciful end.

Now, it is very unlikely that Arrington would have won re-election with all this swirling around her. But she could’ve tried. People willing to blow $70,000 of donated money at a casino might not have the frame of mind to accurately assess their chances of re-election. Arrington cutting her losses here and sparing us all another circus act counts as something good in our community. Let’s all hope justice is served away from the limelight of city politics.

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