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This Week’s Lion: County Commissioner and Candidate Rick Mirabito

Rick Mirabito has announced that he is running for a second term as County Commissioner for Lycoming County. Running under the Democratic ticket is a bonus for him, as the Republican side is so crowded, the Voter Services Department may have to use a reduced font size to get all the candidates on one ballot. But Commissioner Mirabito also enjoys a name recognition that is probably as high as any elected official in the region. Not only is he finishing a term as Lycoming County Commissioner, but he has also served three terms as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for the 83rd district. This in itself was quite an achievement, as the 83rd district had the highest percentage of Republican voters that was governed by a Democrat. And what makes him even more of a political anomaly is that he is not a homegrown product. Rick Mirabito is a native born New Yorker!

Love him or hate him (and there are plenty of folks in both of those categories), Rick Mirabito is an incredible individual. His mother was widowed just two days after Rick was born. She had five children aged eight, six, four, two, and baby Rick just two days old. Yet Rick remembers that while growing up, he and his siblings were never allowed to feel sorry for themselves. They followed the model their mother set for them — study hard, work hard, and when things get tough, get resourceful!

Rick started with the ‘study hard’ part first. After receiving a degree from Cornell University, he then went to study at the Boston College Law School to receive a Juris Doctor (J.D.). He distinguished himself there becoming Editor-in-Chief of the International and Comparative Law Review.

One of the traits that comes across in the County Commissioners Meetings is Mirabito’s concern for the disadvantaged, and this was evidenced very early in his career. His first efforts as a lawyer were directed toward unions, which he saw as an avenue for social change because they offered individuals a means to get out of poverty. As a union organizer, he felt he was giving workers an opportunity for a decent wage for a decent day’s work.

But he was also a restless young man that literally wanted to see the world, so after some years with his union activity, he went to work at construction jobs in New York to raise money to travel. At age 28, he backpacked around the world, even living for China for a time. Even later, at age 41, he would take a year off to live in the small Pacific island of Palau to serve there as Court Counsel to the Supreme Court of that republic.

In the 1980s, he had a good position with a large law firm in Boston but saw an opportunity that he could not pass up. In 1998, Rick Mirabito was selected to be the law clerk for the Honorable Malcolm Muir of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, located in Williamsport, PA.

So, Rick Mirabito found himself moving from Beantown to Billtown, and along with setting up his legal profession, he also found opportunities in the real estate market, which he continues to this day. But he also had a political itch that he always wanted to scratch, and that opportunity arose as the Democratic candidate for the 83rd District of the Pennsylvania House of Representative seat in 2006. Though he lost that race, he bounced back two years later and won the seat. And like his mother taught him (“when the going gets tough, get resourceful”) when he lost that seat in 2014, he turned around, and a won a seat as a Lycoming County Commissioner.

Rick Mirabito is a politician who is not timid about taking a contrarian position. In his defense, this is often based on the fact that he has a heart for the little guy, a concern for fiscal responsibility, and a sincere passion for transparency in government. At the same time, Commissioner Mirabito has a savvy understanding of how to use the media to advocate his positions and the verbal ability to tell you to go to Hades and make you look forward to the trip. All things considered, Rick Mirabito is quite an incredible individual.

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