Mayor-elect Eric Papenfuse (D-Harrisburg) met with President Barack Obama and newly elected mayors of 15 other cities Friday as the president seeks support for his 2014 agenda.
“We’re a small town, the smallest at the table by far of all that were invited. But, we have big-city problems,” said Papenfuse, who sat beside mayors of the country’s largest cities, including New York, Boston and Los Angeles. “When it was my turn to speak, not only did I tell the President about what we had accomplished in Harrisburg bringing people together, but I also talked about the possibility of Harrisburg to be the testing ground for new urban policy in the United States.”
Papenfuse cited ongoing challenges in the city dealing with poverty, education and transportation. He said the mayors also focused their attention on immigration reform, the Affordable Care Act and the president’s upcoming State of the Union address.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden also discussed with the mayors their concern about long-term unemployment benefits running out for more than one million people just after Christmas.
Papenfuse said he had lunch with Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. He said the two discussed issues with city residents having transportation to work.
“We have a real problem in Harrisburg, as you know, with access to jobs, with access and mobility on all levels in the city,” said Papenfuse. “And, if the federal government were to invest in Harrisburg, I believe that they will find that we can solve our problems in ways that will serve as a model for other cities throughout the country.”
Papenfuse also mentioned his inauguration will take place Jan. 6 at 10 a.m. at Harrisburg High School. He chose the location for a few reasons, including cost and the opportunity to highlight education in the city.