MONESSEN, Pa. (KDKA) — The mayor of Monessen is telling his side of the story after 18 months of drama with the city council.

Mayor Matt Shorraw is talking for the first time since returning to meetings in early January.

He didn’t go to any city council meetings for more than a year and a half.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Shorraw told KDKA he received criticism from local leaders because he was trying to address what he called corruption within the city.

When returned just last month, he quickly made big charges.

He fired the city solicitor, the city administrator and removed the law firm representing the city.

“It wasn’t the greatest decision to say, ‘You know what, I’m staying away,'” Mayor Shorraw told KDKA’s Meghan Schiller.

He knows it looked messy.

“I love the city, I grew up there, I’m a fourth-generation. But I feel like it was the only option at the time,” Shorraw said.

Mayor Shorraw said he stayed away for one main reason.

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“I didn’t want to be a part of something that I felt wasn’t above board, and I couldn’t do anything to change that because I didn’t have the votes to change it and I didn’t have the legal backing.”

He returned to city hall in early January with no regrets, immediately firing two people.

“Solicitors are at-will employees,’” said Mayor Shorraw. “It’s very common for them to be let go and the city clerk, she was very overwhelmed.”

He said it’s nothing personal, but he wants to move the city in a new direction.

The city’s been declining since the 1980s with blight, boarded-up businesses, potholes and lack of jobs. He said he’s ready to fix things in a new way.

“I don’t think we’re any different from Braddock or McKeesport or Duquesne or Clairton. We all have the same issues, just to varying degrees. It’s just how you approach those issues and that’s what needs to change,” the mayor said.

Meghan Schiller