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VOTERS OF WILLIAMSPORT: Don’t Give Up the Power of the People. Vote ‘No’ and ‘No’ so You Elect a Mayor!

The last thing needed in today’s world at any level is to give more power to elected officials. However, that is exactly what Williamsport City Council is asking you to do. What is all this City Charter confusion about? Why would you want a Council-Manager or Home Rule option over electing a mayor? Why would you want to change what is working for the Citizens of Williamsport, and who’s bright idea was this?

I don’t think City Council could have created a more unnecessary, costly and confusing situation for the taxpayers of Williamsport. This is beyond trying to baffle folks with bull s***; I needed a half dozen people to explain it all to me. That’s not even getting to how the questions appear on the ballot. I don’t believe that was an accident either, just another attempt by elected officials to try to deceive the public creatively.

I will try to explain this as easily as possible — obviously, it’s my take on the situation. I will tell you I spent more time talking with folks about this than any other article I’ve ever written. Simply put — Williamsport City Council wants to replace the mayor you elect with a city manager they hire.

Williamsport is considered a third class city by the State of Pennsylvania. If I were ranking them, Williamsport would be number one. There is no other city in this classification that is as financially solvent, is experiencing the economic growth, and has all to offer that Williamsport does. I would need several pages to list all the great things that can be found in the City. Many have been accomplished in the 2000s.

There are 53 third-class cities in the state of Pennsylvania. Only six use a different form of government than Williamsport currently uses. Altoona, Dubois, Lock Haven, Meadville, Oil City, and Titusville. Over the last decade, I’ve been fortunate to be in and out of all of six, and none compare to what we have right here at home in Billtown. It’s not even close.

So, why change? The answer is simple, Council President Jonathan Williamson, along with other City Council members, as well as several looking in from the outside, have personal animosity towards the current Mayor. They also want to gain more power than they can achieve under the current system of having a mayor elected by the good people of Williamsport.

No matter if you like Mayor Gabriel Campana or not, along with the help of so many good people, over his three terms great things have happened in our area. Again, let me reiterate there have been a lot of great people involved in the success of Williamsport and our area. Besides, under the current system, if the Mayor was doing a poor job, the people simply vote him out.

Certain individuals serving on Council want to be thought of as the enlightened, the educated, those who know what’s best for Williamsport. To me, this is insulting to the people of Williamsport. They want to take your vote away because they don’t agree with who you elected over the years and don’t believe you will get it right in the future. So, simply eliminate the taxpayers’ vote and change the playing field. Forget about checks and balances; forget who elected you and who you work for. Transparency be damned.

Again, we’re talking about a very successful City, not one that has filed for ACT 47 as other distressed third-class cities have. Why would you change your approach while your team is in the midst of a winning streak? The answer is simple — Individual agendas. There is no I in team.

Moving right along to the cost reference in regards to Williamsport City Council. They obtained a $25,000 State grant to pay for studying the situation and presenting it to the people of Williamsport in regards to the City Charter issue. However, said grant has been deemed null and void because City Council failed to follow proper State procedures by placing two questions on the upcoming ballot instead of one. So, guess who’s on the hook for the 25 grand? You got it, the taxpayers. Next up, there was a $65,000 State grant available to study city government, and what could be improved to better serve the citizens of Williamsport. A nonpartisan study, intended to identify problems and how to solve them. City Council under the direction of President Williamson also failed to obtain this grant. What a great way to look out for the citizens of Billtown’s wallet.

Now for the really big number, $250,000, a quarter of a million large. That is what the Council-Manager or City Charter option will cost the taxpayers of Williamsport compared to the current system of having an elected mayor. Yep, all you folks backing this change on City Council and lurking in the shadows from the outside really got their numbers in order. I would also like to view a plan on implementing this form of government and what that would cost?

This is what those who want you to give them more power are doing for you. Did I mention under the new system Council President Williamson would like to see in place, the City-Manager is selected by City Council? I’m sure there would be no bias there considering they’re hiring this person, giving them around a six-figure salary, and then have the city manager answer to them. In addition, City Council will appoint a pseudo mayor. You know, to represent the City whenever and wherever a mayor is supposed to, even though Williamsport really won’t have a mayor. Take a guess who chooses the pseudo mayor? If you said City Council you got it right. This could be pretty opportunistic for someone that has a successful full-time job so could never be mayor without giving up their job or someone that couldn’t win an election. Again, just my thoughts.

It is most important I note Councilwoman Bonnie Katz is the only one who voted against this poppycock. She’s a smart lady. Councilman Derek Slaughter did not vote; it was prior to him taking his seat on council after the election. I’ll have more on this issue and the upcoming elections next week.

God Bless America.

Jim Webb

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  • Frank Tripoli
    October 24, 2018, 2:07 pm

    Thanks for this enlightening information Jim. This is an important report for the City Residents whose future will be directly impacted by their choice!

  • Patty Cohick
    October 25, 2018, 9:26 am

    You hit the nail on the head. Power to the PEOPLE.