New Scranton Mayor B.J. Wright (right) is administered the oath of office Tuesday by Melinda Hinners, city clerk.

New Scranton mayor takes oath of office

B.J. Wright succeeds Rodney Walker, who died in December at 55

By ANDREW MCGINN
a.mcginn@beeherald.com

SCRANTON — A fellow firefighter will finish the job started by Mayor Rodney Walker before his sudden death in December.

Scranton city council Tuesday night voted unanimously to appoint B.J. Wright to serve the remainder of Walker’s second term as mayor.

Walker, whose fatal heart attack at 55 stunned the community, was a longtime member of the Scranton Fire Department.

Wright, a 34-year-old Scranton farmer who’s served on the fire department since he was 18, stepped up to take Walker’s place at City Hall.

“I really respected our past mayor,” Wright said. “Not only was he a personal friend, he was someone I looked up to.”

The council on Tuesday had to choose between Wright and Dave Dideriksen for the job, the only two applicants for the position. Both spoke briefly before the vote.

“I know I’m new to the town,” said Dideriksen, 56, a native of Long Island, N.Y., who’s called Scranton home since 2012. “I think we’re on the edge of some exciting times in Greene County. Whether you’re against the casino or not, it’s an opportunity for growth.”

The council went with Wright — whose given name is William John Wright — promptly administering the oath of office.

Wright, a 1999 graduate of Jefferson-Scranton High School, previously served two terms on the Scranton city council.

While Wright said he wants to unite the community, it’s his intention to only serve out the remainder of Walker’s term, which ends in November.

But, he’s open to pursuing another term.

“Maybe I’ll change my mind,” he said.

A lifelong Greene County resident, Walker had first been appointed to Scranton city council in 2004, and served until being appointed mayor in 2011.

He won his first two-year term as mayor that same year, then won re-election in 2013.

Walker left behind nine children ranging in age from 18 months to 33 years.

Tina Walker, Walker’s widow, tearfully addressed the council Tuesday night to express her thanks.

“Rodney was proud to sit next to each and every one of you,” she said. “I truly believe Scranton lost a truly loyal citizen.”

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