Harrisburg mayoral forum features all five candidates and spirited exchanges

The Harrisburg mayoral candidates got together Thursday night for a forum hosted by the African American Chamber of Commerce at the Que House on State Street.

It was the first time all five candidates appeared together. There was a lot of good talk about issues, but there were also some feisty exchanges which got the crowd going.

Candidate Eric Papenfuse came out a big more aggressive in the second debate and talked about parts of the city's recovery plan that are not being carried out.

“They are not being enacted and that responsibility lies at the feet of our mayor and our controller and city council,” said Papenfuse. Candidate Dan Miller is also the current City Controller.

Papenfuse did not criticize candidate Lewis Butts, who was the very next speaker, but Butts took aim at him.

“Papenfuse, you worked for the Harrisburg Authority and you quit,” Butts said. “We are in a point in our development that we can't have quitters.”

And a fired up Mayor Linda Thompson took aim at everybody.

“I do agree with Eric,” Thompson said. “Dan Miller hasn't been nowhere around and has put his hand on nothing that has been successful with this recovery plan.”

“I did come up with a plan,” countered Miller. “I'm the first person to come up with a plan. It was in June of 2010 and it was a plan that the county even liked.

Thompson also blasted Papenfuse.

“Eric is a quitter,” she said. “He sat on the Harrisburg Authority Board. I appointed him and he exited. But he claims he got off because of corruption.”

Papenfuse defended himself.

“I resigned because I was unwilling to commit fraud,” he said. “I was unwilling to sign documents that said that the debt was liquidating. You wouldn't listen then.”

The Mayor said her administration has the people in place to help the city recover financially and will follow the receiver's recovery plan, but Miller says that will not get the job done.

“I do want to mention something about insolvency,” said Miller. “That's the problem, not bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is the cure.”

Nevin Mindlin continued to stress civil discourse.

“We have tended to stand in the corner and yell across the room at each other,” Mindlin said. “We have got to figure out a way to stand in the middle of the room and have a serious conversation with each other.”

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