Watch for more in March-April print edition. See photos below.
The designer’s intention with the sculpture on city hall plaza was to reflect different views of the city. Today that artist’s dream came true.
By noon a crowd of about 250 people assembled in front of the Martin Luther King, Jr. City Government Center in downtown Harrisburg. Most of the people were gone by 1:10 p.m., or so.
When a row of Thompson supporters presented themselves and their signs below her office windows, Thompson came to the window to acknowledge their support.
The Valentine’s Day rally had been branded “Show Your Love for Harrisburg; Demand Linda Thompson Resign” by lead organizer Lisa Paige, who said she was satisfied with the turnout. About halfway through the rally, a man with a petition clipboard had gathered about 50 signatures calling for Thompson’s resignation.
Gauging from messages on hand-made signs, spontaneous crowd cheers, rhymed chants and chatter, it appears that most, but not all who rallied, were there expressing frustrations over the city’s financial woes and recent reports by former mayoral spokesperson Chuck Ardo. Ardo alleges that Thompson had referred to openly gay, elected City Controller Dan Miller as “that homosexual, evil little man.” A son of Holocaust survivors, Ardo also told of potential city investors being referred to as “Israel money”.
Ardo is Thompson’s third spokesperson in 13 months to have resigned, although one left to accept a job in his hometown. A day before Ardo clarified why he resigned and Paige went public with her rally, Harrisburg City Solicitor Phil Harper resigned, citing he had “philosophical differences” with the mayor. “I would hope that the mayor recognizes her philosophical biases have been a hindrance,” Ardo told Central Voice.
After Ardo’s disclosures, Thompson released this statement: “I have a passion for all people and have surrounded myself with a diverse group of people, both in my personal and professional life.
I value my responsibility for diversity and will let my work, as the Mayor of the City of Harrisburg, prove that I am a Mayor for all people.
The work that I have begun, the initiatives I have started, and the coalitions I have built around these initiatives represent diversity.
Those who have a relationship with me, both personally and professionally, know that I care about our City and all people. Chuck Ardo may say what he wants, but the people elected me as Mayor and I will faithfully discharge my duties and let the people decide.”
15 ralliers asked to answer the question “I’m here today because…” said:
Dr. Ali – To support Linda Thompson
Sylvester – To keep Linda Thompson in office
Rafiyqa – Supporting the mayor, how do we know it’s true she said those things?
Vera – Pointed to her sign – Lead or Leave – I want peace, unity, success
Gail – I’d like to get a feel for what people are thinking about all this
Michael G. – Sad to see that the realities by the former administration resulted in this
Kevin – I’m concerned for the safety of the citizens, closing a fire station to balance the budget
Michael – Because of the truth of Jesus
Michael – I support resignation, she’s anti-gay, anti-Semitic, neither confirmed nor denied or apologized
Paula – I cannot accept bigotry in government, especially from a Democrat, we don’t represent that
Mike – I’m a friend of Dan Miller. It’s unfair the way she’s treating him
Amanda – I think Thompson needs to hear from people who didn’t vote
Bill – She promised a plan, 13 months later nothing
Ray – her racism on gays and Jews, if she actually said those things, imagine if someone else said similar things about African Americans, the NAACP would be right on it
Adam – To see this protest, to see people using their voice