Harrisburg Mayor-elect Eric Papenfuse Wants to Hear from You

By Central Voice

Now that all the confetti has been swept up, Harrisburg’s Mayor-elect Eric Papenfuse wants to hear from you.

He and his transition team are all ears.

Possibilities?

Making replacement of street lights a priority as a way to curtail crime.

Placing the city’s housing codes department under the Public Safety Department along with police, fire, and emergency management.

Improving Broad Street Market. Papenfuse encourages readers to get involved with the new Broad Street Market Alliance initiative (BroadStreetMarketAlliance.org).

Central Voice asked if he would sign the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry pledge. He will.

Harrisburg Mayor-elect Eric Papenfuse

Harrisburg Mayor-elect Eric Papenfuse

His transition team is holding a public meeting Dec. 11, 6 p.m. at the city’s John Harris High School, 2451 Market St.

Transition team chairs will “invite questions, comments and suggestions from Harrisburg residents on the issues impacting the future of the city,” according to a news release.

“We want to make sure that the public is engaged in the transition process and that people have a chance to voice their concerns and offer their solutions,” Papenfuse said about the public meeting.

The mayor-elect has assembled teams to look into Public Safety, Economic and Community Development, Administration, Public Works, Education and Youth, Communications, and Arts, Culture and Tourism.

Today (12/4/13) he shares with Central Voice some potential plans for the city’s future.

Q – Chatter on the streets is that the city looks shabby – trash everywhere, street lights out, blighted buildings. What’s a realistic plan and/or timetable to address these problems?

A – We have transition teams now looking into the many issues facing the city and offering recommendations on how to begin tackling the problems. It is impossible before I get their reports and am actually in office to offer a timetable. However, we will make the recommendations of the transition teams known to the public, and we are also holding a public forum so that residents can provide their input on solutions to the city’s problems. A major priority will be replacing street lights to help curtail crime in our neighborhoods. We will move as quickly as possible so that residents can see some improvement in their daily lives.

Q – Apocryphal street chatter says Harrisburg is full of absentee landlords who do not take proper care of rental units. The City Codes Department is a small, overwhelmed staff that cannot possibly be expected to keep up with such a scenario.

Does it make sense to re-assign temporarily City Hall staff to the Codes Department in order to jump start rental unit inspections and code violation follow-ups?

Our transition teams are looking at how to beef up codes enforcement, and we are looking at the possibility of placing codes under the Public Safety Department along with police, fire, and emergency management. We will seek input from the public on the recommendations of our transition teams but absolutely agree that codes enforcement should be a priority in Harrisburg’s revitalization.

Q – Regarding the Harrisburg Strong Plan, will your first proposed budget as approved by City Council be subject to final approval of Receiver William Lynch? Do you foresee any special features to your first budget?

A – We are now examining a reorganization of city government to create a strong Economic and Community Development department, and the first budget will need to devise a way to fund this initiative. We will work closely with the Receiver and with City Council to develop a budget that funds our priorities in the most efficient and cost-saving ways possible. Again, we are looking to our transition teams to offer recommendations on how to achieve our goals within the resources allotted in the Harrisburg Strong plan.

Q – The impression many have of Broad Street Market, the oldest open-air market in the nation is that it hasn’t learned much in its long history. For years, the entity has been juggled around in varying management scenarios. Any thoughts on how to make changes that will revive a wonderful city resource?

A – Our Economic and Community Development transition team is looking at ways to improve the operations of the Broad Street Market, and I am eagerly awaiting their suggestions. I would encourage your readers to evaluate and offer input on the new Broad Street Market Alliance initiative (visit BroadStreetMarketAlliance.org for more information). I am optimistic for the Market’s future and believe we can see a swift turnaround in 2014.

Q – Will you take the Freedom to Marry Pledge?

A – Absolutely. (Central Voice reported in September 2011 that Harrisburg has the fourth highest concentration of same-sex households among cities and boroughs in the state, according to 2010 US Census figures released by UCLA’s William’s Institute. Three hundred and eighteen households reported themselves as same-sex couples which accounts for 15.45 of every 1,000 couples in the capital city. Nineteen Pennsylvania mayors have taken the pledge, which includes Lancaster Mayor J. Richard Gray.)

Papenfuse said, “The success of our administration will depend on the engagement of city residents and the support of our business community.”

Email: email mayorelectpapenfuse@gmail.com

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