Harrisburg mayor set to announce campaign decision in writing after losing primary

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse has decided whether or not to launch a written campaign in the fall general election in an attempt to keep his post for a third term.

He didn’t say what that decision is. But he said he did it over the holiday weekend.

His campaign office sent out a press release Tuesday night announcing a September 15 press conference outside the Hudson building at 6th and Maclay Street. At that point, Papenfuse said he would reveal his decision.

Reached by PennLive on Tuesday evening, Papenfuse said he was not ready to publicly discuss his decision. But he said he wanted to answer questions from reporters and supporters by providing an announcement date since he told people he was going to decide before Labor Day.

“For months now, former supporters and opponents have been asking me to mount a written campaign for the mayor in the general election on November 2,” Papenfuse said in a press release from his campaign office. “After much thought and thought, I made a decision based on what I truly believe is in the best interests of the City of Harrisburg and its residents. I look forward to discussing my future plans with you on September 15th.

If Papenfuse goes ahead with a written campaign, it would amount to a rematch against City Council President Wanda RD Williams, who beat Papenfuse by 45 votes in this spring’s primary election for the all-important Democratic Party nomination.

The spring primary was among the closest in city history.

Mayor Eric Papenfuse plans to oppose City Council President Wanda Williams in the Harrisburg mayoral race this fall.

The final results showed Williams with 1,791 votes (28.85%), Papenfuse with 1,746 votes (28.10%) and 2,673 scattered among three other candidates and written ballots. A race in writing would at least give those voters and other voters in the city a chance to vote on a direct choice between Williams and Papenfuse.

One of the other candidates vying for the Democratic go-ahead was businessman Otto Banks, who has since been in talks with Papenfuse’s campaign to assess common interests.

Banks said last month he was willing to “have a chat with him (Papenfuse) about his plan for the city’s future.” Politically, we shared similar views during the campaign, so I would expect such a discussion to be productive. “

Banks’ membership could secure additional votes for Papenfuse, as Banks secured 20% of the vote in the primary.

Papenfuse also announced Banks ally Ana White as the new director of community relations and engagement last week. The mayor said his administration owed the electorate to “build coalitions,” which he was doing by hiring White, whom he had previously tried to hire for a similar position in 2020 due to his known skills.

White said she has already been working in the city to bring attention to issues of trauma, mental health and better relationships for years. Her personal experience and professional background as a sociologist position her well for the city’s work, she said.

For Williams, the victory was the result of 16 years of dealing with residents’ issues one by one over four terms on city council, strengthened by the relationships she had established as a longtime resident of the city.

She campaigned that her concern for everyone in the city – including many in the neighborhoods that she and her accused rivals had become somewhat forgotten by what they saw as Papenfuse’s emphasis on big plans and business interests – made her the best candidate. to take over the town hall.

Papenfuse – whose current term runs until the end of this year – said last month that he was increasingly concerned about the prospects of an orderly transition to Williams, saying that to date she has no had not answered his calls or responded to attempts to set up meetings.

It also fueled his oft-voiced concerns that the incumbent chairman of the board would serve under the leadership of his longtime friend and political ally, James Pianka, and other former allies of Reed. Papenfuse, in his main campaign, argued it would represent a throwback to the “bad days” that culminated with the city facing a tax disaster and Reed indicted in a corruption probe.

Williams, reached last month, blamed Papenfuse for the breakdown in communications between the two, noting that the mayor was largely absent from all council meetings between the May 18 primary and the start of the council’s usual recess in July / August and claiming he didn’t I didn’t return his calls.

Written campaigns are always difficult battles because they force voters to take extra steps to vote. And now, with the advent of mail-in voting without excuse, candidates who campaign in writing must have their campaign in full swing by September to ensure that the first wave of mail-order voters are in the know. of their candidacy.

The first postal ballots in Dauphin County are expected to be sent out in late September, election officials said.


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