Council candidates list varied reasons for seeking office

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Today the Sun-Gazette offers the final installment in a question-and-answer series involving candidates for Williamsport City Council.)

The six candidates for three City Council seats all believe voters should place faith in them in Tuesday’s general election for a variety of reasons.

Seeking re-election are Councilmen Randall J. Allison, of 1308 Elmira St., and N. Clifford “Skip” Smith, of 835 First Ave., both Republicans, and Councilwoman Liz Miele, of 525 W. Fourth St., a Democrat. Challengers are Scott Miller, of 822 Tucker St., a Republican, and Alison D. Hirsch, of 423 Rural Ave., and Kelly Anderson, of 533 Seventh Ave., Democrats.

Q: What are the three reasons you want to be on council that would make someone want to trust you with their vote?

Allison: Four years ago when I ran for the seat I hold on City Council, I pledged to work with other council members and the administration to promote development and improvement in the commercial and residential areas of our city.

With cooperation of a number of entities, we’re seeing fundamental change in downtown and throughout the neighborhoods. Examples of this include the entrance to Newberry on West Fourth Street, the residential development of the former Brodart site on Memorial Avenue, the Grove Street Commons housing development … and all of the new buildings and businesses in the central business district.

For the future, the economic revitalization committee is focusing its attention on the area east of Market Street between West Third Street and everything south and West Fourth Street down to Penn Street and eventually farther east to Washington Boulevard. This long neglected area of the city is ripe for redevelopment and in cooperation with the county, Lycoming College and private developers and stake holders in that corridor.

We’ve formed the city rental ordinance, looked for technology in a records management system, planned to (add) more police and codes officers and have citizen involvement through neighborhood watches.

Anderson: I will be a councilwoman who listens and represents the people. I won’t be afraid to tell the truth and I will represent the whole city.

I bring a background of finance as assistant treasurer at South Williamsport.

I will be searching for where the city can crunch the dollars it spends.

Fiscal responsibility will be my duty to the taxpayers.

There’re not enough plans in place with oversight on spending and as a council member I will do my best to get on committees where I can put my experience in finance to work for the city taxpayers.

I also believe I can be the voice for the unheard people and will listen to them. So many times, people may not understand the complexities of government, and I will try to make it easier for them by representing them, not in any one section but the whole city.

Hirsch: I want to be a voice of common sense and reason on City Council. We need to carefully consider every single proposal that comes before council. I will never be a rubber stamp for any idea that doesn’t meet a simple common-sense test: Is this proposal in the best interest of our city and all its residents?

I want to be a voice for the neighborhoods. I will fight to put taxpayer dollars to work where they matter the most. Downtown and the historic district are important for the city, but so are the West End and East End. We need to repair our streets, get more streetlights and a greater police presence on the streets, improve our parks, and support activities for families and children in the neighborhoods. I want to speak for those who feel they have no voice in their own city and its future. For too long, a small group of individuals has acted as if the city belonged to them, as if they can make decisions for all of us … I supported the citizen group that lobbied to reopen the Memorial Park Pool and will continue to work with residents who want to improve their neighborhoods and make our city a better place to live, work and play.

Miele: As the youngest member of council, and the youngest person running this cycle, I bring a number of unusual perspectives to the office: I purchased my own home just a few years ago, became a business owner just this year, and am very sensitive to the needs of those in the city who are just starting out – starting families, starting businesses, becoming involved in their communities.

I have been advocating for things that will make the city more livable for a younger population since I was first elected to council in 2009. I will continue to do so over my next four years, advancing and supporting concepts like bikeability, walkability, quality recreation services and first-time homebuyer incentives.

I’m also a small business owner committed to growing small business investment in the city because in order to have a sustainable economy for decades to come, we need to have a thriving business scene based around many different industries. I see exciting small business opportunities to help us keep our college graduates in the city and increase our braintrust, which will someday mean many passionate and invested young people powering not just our economy, but, we hope, also our government.

Miller: For seven years I have advocated for the public by going to City Council. During this time I have had to research and look up procedures and know the law.

Second, I’ve knocked on thousands of doors and spoke to thousands of people and have placed out petitions with hundreds of signatures. I don’t just talk because I am running but because I am concerned about our community.

In our family, community service runs deep. Since I was a child, I was always encouraged to do community service, from volunteering at recycling centers, to Christmas with Kiwanis clubs and numerous community service projects at church and other places where I have been a part. I’ve been advocating for safer crosswalks at Sheridan Elementary, and it took six years to get that addressed. I don’t just talk the talk but walk the walk. Most recently, I attended a conference with Mayor Gabriel J. Campana as he announced his plans to attack blighted properties … I am a family man and a fiscal conservative who loves this city and have experience as the city improves its code issues as a certified building inspector who can assist on committees that are related to building and properties.

Smith: I have proven in the last almost six years to be a working councilman. I wish to continue with several projects that I have been involved with and hope to see to completion and several other projects which I have in mind, which I can’t divulge because they are in process … I have proven my capabilities during my time on council by chairing the surveillance camera project and have saved the city $100,000 in consulting fees of which we had a proposal for that amount. I am a communications engineer and provide to the city my services pro-bono, which is required by ordinance.

I’ve met with residents and assisted them in resolving public safety and public works issues, including directly dealing with the fiasco on the Arch and Third streets water and gas project. I have brought forth an updated streets excavation ordinance.

I have helped save the city thousands of dollars with promoting a previously out-sourced city electrician position and supported introduction of an information technology employee in-house.