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||Voters deny Harrisburg mayor
chance to run for second term
Harrisburg, 23 May 2013: Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson, who in 2010 asked the State of Pennsylvania to take financial control of the city, lost her chance to run for a second term. She lost this week’s Democratic primary election to bookshop owner Eric Papenfuse, who topped poll with 37 per cent of the vote, followed by city controller Dan Miller on 31 per cent and the mayor on 29 per cent. Mayor Thompson won the 2009 elections after she defeated the long-term incumbent Stephen Reed also in the primaries. Papenfuse is likely to face Nevin Mindlin, a conservative independent candidate, in the November elections.
Linda Thompson will be remembered as the mayor who took Harrisburg into receivership, although she cannot be blamed for the financial woes of the city. In 2007 under Mayor Stephen Reed, the city entered into a speculative bond deal to expand the municipal waste incinerator. Harrisburg is now in debt to the tune of some US$340 million and is unable to pay for some of the most basic services. It has also omitted to honour all its debt service obligations.
State-appointed receiver William Lynch will shortly present a fiscal recovery plan, which is likely to include the sale of municipal assets like the incinerator and parking lots as well as labour savings.
Eric Papenfuse was supported by the business community and ran the best financed campaign. Runner-up Dan Miller, who was city councilor between 2006 and 2009, claimed the business community wanted to silence him because he preferred bankruptcy over state control. “I were defeated by forces including state and county officials and bond insurers who viewed me as someone who looks out for the interests of city residents rather than those behind the ill-fated incinerator deal.”
According to local newspapers, Mayor Thompson once described the openly gay Dan Miller as a ‘homosexual, evil little man’, a remark which she has never denied making.
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