Campana served the city well over 12 years in office

He was a tough politician.

He made a lot of people angry at times.

But over 12 years at the helm of Williamsport city government, Mayor Gabriel J. Campana accomplished a lot.

Sure, not everything worked, but he tried and he tried. He was the mayor who did not give up, no matter how beaten down he felt.

In the end, it was personal mistakes and broken relationships that grounded him.

The city’s parks and playgrounds are better, and more projects that he started will continue into the future.

Kohl’s department store was a major development for downtown Williamsport that Campana pursued with the vigor of a mayor wanting to see his city’s downtown bounce back.

Housing projects were developed in distressed areas in the city, creating new vibrancy and giving residents there reason to be proud. He targeted absentee landlords who allowed their structures to decay.

And he targeted crime at different turns along his 12-year tenure.

In short, he did a good job. He had the will, and he had the knowledge. It wasn’t as if he came to the office unprepared.

He spent 12 years on City Council before seeking the mayor’s seat, learning city government operations from the inside. The knowledge gained from this sort of experience is invaluable to anyone wanting to be mayor.

He also tapped into the experience of prior mayors and legal and business executives. And he surrounded himself with everyday people, from mothers and aunts to blue-collar workers. He listened to their concerns and desires.

When it came time to work with City Council to accomplish his goals, the two sides frequently butted heads.

There are lessons to be learned about building relationships — and nurturing them amid significant disagreements. Walking away only serves to leave important tasks undone and challenges unmet. Sure, disagreements are, after all, part and parcel to life and especially government.

While he made mistakes and at times did not — in our view — cooperate well enough with other community leaders, he had the support of a majority of voters, having been re-elected twice.

In the end, he accomplished most of the 160 goals and projects that he had compiled on a white board he maintained in his office.

As he told the Sun-Gazette, “I tried to do my best.”

Yes, Gabe, you did.

The positive results of your work are apparent and leave a solid foundation for the new mayor and council.


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