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McKernan will run as write-in candidate for commissioner

Lycoming County Commissioner Jack McKernan is seeking re-election as a write-in candidate, his campaign team announced Monday.

As Lycoming County moves into the next wave of commissioners, McKernan said his experience is pivotal.

“Even this year for the 2020 budget, we’re going to have some hard decisions,” McKernan said. “Our budget projection for next year is ugly, and it’s not going to get a whole lot easier going out.”

As commissioner, McKernan said he worked to solve the fiscal issues in the county by keeping the payroll below the industrial rising standard.

“We’ve held spending to less than a 2-percent average in the first three years,” he said. “That’s when wages were going up two and a half percent a year, and healthcare is going up.”

Superior managing of other expenses have accounted for that fact, he said.

By turning to a company to help mobilize idle money, the county has saved taxpayers over a million dollars.

Reentry programs for the prison population have also been cut by $100,000, he said.

“That has worked to help keep our our prison at a manageable level, and given us the opportunity to house federal inmates,” McKernan said. Out-of-county prisoners pay for themselves and more when held by other governments due to overcrowding.

“Whoever the other two commissioners are, I’m certainly going to be a person that will help get things done and help get the mission carried out,” McKernan said.

As chair, McKernan said he moved the county planning department to pick up work on the levee project when the city officials’ initiatives were “floundering.”

“Our planning department picked up the ball and coordinated all the sides to get everybody working towards getting the levy taken care of. It’s well down the road on getting to that result,” he said.

McKernan said he his term has been marked by investigating other economic development strategies such as bringing broadband internet to rural areas and educating a workforce to take on new jobs.

“The economic development will help us increase real estate values, which will give us more money to pay bills that are out there for the county and take that burden off of taxpayers,” he said.

As county employees age, their retirement may also help the county save money.

“Long term, we’re trying to get our head count down. I think we will get the opportunity to do that through the different retirements that come up,” McKernan said. “They’re going to be big decisions in the next 12 to 18 months.”

Not only seeking to make changes within the county government, but also advocating for changing state laws, McKernan said his efforts bore fruit when local legislatures eliminated the vehicle emissions fee.

However, the road to re-election is an uphill battle as a write-in candidate, he said.

“You can’t be a straight party voter and get McKernan in office, because it doesn’t work that way. You gotta buck the straight party, and go to the bottom of the ballot, wherever the commissioners are located and write me in on the line,” he said.

Operating with about 60 days left, McKernan said he plans a marketing “blitz.”

“I think we’ve got the endurance to work hard for 60 days and state my case,” he said. “Hopefully people will understand that I’m a great option.”

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