Adam Yoder, a Republican running for Williamsport City Council in the upcoming election, has been door-knocking for months to promote his candidacy. He estimates that he has met several thousand people, who generally express to him their concerns about taxes and public safety. But, he notes, one of the questions he is often asked is why he would want to put himself through the agony of running for this public office?
It is a good question. Running for any locally elected position is a daunting chore in time and commitment, and will undoubtedly be a financial bite as well. The reward for winning the election will be non-stop meetings, angry constituents, public roasting in local media, and perhaps a small satisfaction that comes from knowing that through it all — a little good has come about.
On November 5th, there will be four open seats on the Williamsport City Council, with four Republicans and three Democrats running for the positions. The Democrats cover a wide spectrum. Tiasha Machuga is the manager of Old School Pizza and a member of the Williamsport National Organization of Women. David Banks is a Navy veteran and a graduate of Pennsylvania College of Technology. Jon Mackey is a business owner who is, likewise, a Penn Tech grad, as well as a retired Philadelphia police officer. They each have particular focus areas in their campaigns but are primarily running on the idea of a fresh approach to city government.
On the Republican side are one incumbent, Bonnie Katz, co-owner of Le Chocolat in downtown Williamsport, and a very active council member in areas such as city public works and financial committees as well as ad-hoc committees on city residency requirements and the police and employee pension boards. Bill Hall, a former council member, is also running. Two young men, Vincent Pulizzi, age 34, and Adam Yoder, age 32, round out the Republican ticket.
Both of these men represent hope for genuinely new ideas. Pulizzi is a graduate from South Williamsport High School as well as Pennsylvania College of Technology and works as an inspector for the oil and gas industry. Yoder is, likewise, a Penn Tech grad and also holds a Masters in Business Administration degree from St. Joseph’s University. He is a professional in the building technologies industry, currently serving as the North Central Pennsylvania Market Leader with Johnson Controls.
Adam Yoder stands out from the group for a lot of reasons. He has a wide and diverse finance and business background. He has worked on solving complex infrastructure problems for all types of major organizations, all the way down to individual homeowners. But for all that, Yoder also has a keen sense of organizational behavior that recognizes the importance of cultural change. When he talks about change, he goes beyond budgets and buildings but emphasizing how culture is the foundation that impacts everything. In his talks, he has emphasized, if the culture is corroded, nothing good can happen.
It would be nice if that theme could become a watchword for the future. It is a message that we can all echo. Simple respect for one another goes a long way toward finding common ground on complex issues. In the old film, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” the Jimmy Stewart character describes this attitude well in his statement, “I wouldn’t give you two cents for all our fancy rules if, behind them, they didn’t have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a little looking out for the other fella, too.”
Whatever political party they may belong to, we hope that the new city government officials can create a new culture that would bring a breath of fresh air that would help remove the political smog that Williamsport has suffered with for far too long.
Larry Stout welcomes your comments or input. He can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.