Outrage in Perry County over comment by Harrisburg’s mayor

People in Perry County are firing back in response to what they say is an offensive comment made about their county, by Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson Wednesday.

Thompson was responding to a question about offering up one free day a week where residents could drop off trash at the city’s incinerator.

“Our goal is to make sure that most of the people do it are living in the city of Harrisburg and are doing business in the city of Harrisburg,” Thompson said. “We’re not opening up our flood gates for some scumbag who comes from Perry County who got the money and pocketed it and comes here and wants to dump it for free.”

When that clip made it to the news, a social media firestorm erupted.

One Facebook group, named “Perry County Scumbags who want to see Linda Thompson impeached,” is thousands of members strong.

“Boycott Harrisburg,” said Jennifer Seiler, a bartender at Dugout Sports Bar & Grill in Duncannon. “Why would we go down there and spend money when we’re being called scumbags?”

A spokesman for the mayor released the following statement:

“The mayor’s reference specifically to illegal dumpers from Perry County has been distorted out of contact (sic). Obviously the mayor was not referring to the citizens of Perry County. Many of the city’s workers, visitors and friends come from Perry County into the city everyday and the city has a long, positive relationship with the county. The Mayor apologizes to the good citizens of Perry County for any negative connotation implied in her comments on fighting blight in the City.”

But State Representative Mark Keller, R-86th District, said it’s just not enough.

“Now she does an apology through a spokesperson? That’s not good enough for me,” he said. “That’s not good enough for me. We need here in Perry County to hear directly from her.”

County Commissioner Paul Rudy Jr. said Thompson did call the commission office Thursday morning to explain her comment, but one thing was noticeably missing.

“In that, we fully expected to hear an apology, but it was more like they really got this wrong,” Rudy said. “Maybe the mayor would like to visit Perry County and get a better appreciation for who we are and what we’re all about.”

Dugout Sports Bar & Grill is planning a Perry County Pride Party for all day Friday.

The business is joining with others to encourage people in the county to keep their dollars local and out of Harrisburg until the mayor issues an apology they feel is acceptable.

“We’re trying to send the message that, making a statement like that, again, whether it be us or any other county is inappropriate,” Seiler said. “We’re proud of where we come from.”