Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse (D) says there’s urgency to get things done, but he’s finding not everyone shares that urgency.
Wednesday marked Papenfuse’s 100th day in office. He sat down with reporters to talk about how things are going so far.
The major change is the city getting out of receivership and regaining some of the control ceded to the state-appointed receiver during that time period.
The mayor talked about some of the initiatives he discussed during the campaign that now he has to try to make reality.
He’s shuffled around some city jobs, such as moving codes enforcement into the police bureau. He pointed out he’s also worked to try to improve relationships with state and federal lawmakers.
But, Papenfuse also pointed to challenges.
City Council still has not approved a new contract with the city’s fire fighters. Once approved, that deal could lead to a fire station closing.
Council members also have challenged him on some of his spending proposals.
The mayor says he’d like to see council move more quickly on his ideas, but he recognizes the strained relationship under previous mayors.
“I think City Council is too used to understanding its role as simply a check on power, and understandably so. For years in this town, you had a mayor that wielded extreme power and had a very oppositional approach to City Council and basically did everything in his power to avoid going to City Council,” said Papenfuse.
The mayor also pointed to efforts to reduce gun violence. A new program will start Monday. Police and the district attorney will seek bail of at least $100,000 for any person charged with a felony of carrying a firearm illegally.
The mayor is also looking to start an interfaith council.
He’s been criticized by some in the faith community over the city’s handling of a recent church collapse and the arrest of the church’s owner, Bishop A.E. Sullivan.