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South Williamsport, PA
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County Hall Corner: Two for the Show

This is the second half of the County Hall Corner series featuring the personal perspectives of the tenure of the three Lycoming County Commissioners. Last week I featured Jack McKernan, the chairman of the board of commissioners, and this week I will highlight the two remaining commissioners — Rick Mirabito and Tony Mussare. Next week

This is the second half of the County Hall Corner series featuring the personal perspectives of the tenure of the three Lycoming County Commissioners. Last week I featured Jack McKernan, the chairman of the board of commissioners, and this week I will highlight the two remaining commissioners — Rick Mirabito and Tony Mussare. Next week will be my 100th published article for County Hall Corner, and I will reflect on my own observations over these past two and a half years.

During their tenure, Rick Mirabito and Tony Mussare have been adversarial on certain issues, yet they appear to agree on many more things than they disagree on. For example, when asked what they consider their greatest personal achievement as a commissioner these past three years, both replied that it was their engagement with their constituents. Commissioner Mirabito, in particular, stated that he never wanted to be viewed as a ‘bureaucrat.’ He views his duties as informing and engaging the public. Commissioner Mussare emphasized how important it is to keep the channels of communication open to those they serve, “I always want to keep my finger on the pulse of my constituents.” In fact, he considers it a tribute to the entire board that they have worked so diligently in this regard, holding public town halls across the county and continually keeping an open ear to constituents concerns. He noted how critical it is that all the commissioners “be aware of their needs, fears, vision, and capabilities in order to respond and allocate limited resources for the greater good of our community.”

Both men also are proud of the leadership that this board of commissioners has shown on various issues. Commissioner Mirabito highlights the bridge replacement program utilizing the $5 car registration fee provided under Act 89. It was hard to show the public the benefits of this initiative, and it took some steel on the part of the board to get it passed. Commissioner Mussare relates there have been a number of leadership issues such as this; from contracting a professional management group for operation of the White Deer Golf Course to continuing the GEO re-entry program, which helps assist people who need to be educated on making better decisions, which in turn eliminated the prison overcrowding issue.

And though these two men are from very different backgrounds, education, profession, and even political parties, both find their personal satisfaction in serving as a commissioner in making a difference in others’ lives.

Commissioner Mirabito had previously served as a state representative in Harrisburg and noted that in that capacity he only functioned in a legislative capacity, whereas a county commissioner serves in both legislative and an executive role. “It means we have to ruffle feathers,” he notes. But what brings him satisfaction is empowering citizens themselves to be the change they want to see. An example is his emphasis on early childhood education. Early intervention programs such as this help parents become more engaged with their children and has been shown to result in lower delinquency problems later in life.

For Tony Mussare, it is even more direct. He enjoys, more than anything else, the opportunity to attend Eagle Scout ceremonies. These symbolize the best of the young men and women who participate in scouting, which reaffirms that there is hope for the future with those who embody these high ideals. Commissioner Mussare admires all volunteers, in general, who dedicate their time and labors to helping young people, regardless of what organization they belong to. Anything he can do to support and help these people and organizations is worth his time and efforts.

Though theirs is a fire inside everyone who seeks public office, it is refreshing that the three commissioners who serve Lycoming County appear to have a heart that burns toward helping others.

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