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Mayoral Races in Several Eastern Cities

October 30, 1991

Undated (AP) _ Mayoral races in two cities along the west branch of the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania are focused on keeping something out of town.

In Lock Haven, it’s water. In Williamsport, it’s jobless recovering addicts.

Mayoral terms are set to expire Jan. 1 in 23 of Pennsylvania’s third-class cities, a legal category for cities under 100,000.

The 9,600 residents of Lock Haven in Clinton County have debated for years whether to have the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers built a dirt dike, 12 to 15 feet high, to protect the city from floods.

Republican Mayor Diann Stuempfle is quitting after 16 years. The primary in May turned into a referendum on the levee.

Bob Edmonston, a 48-year-old engineer who rents a home at the river’s edge, won the primary as part of the anti-levee slate.

Joe Nevins, 68, a retired postal worker who lost the primary, launched a late write-in campaign, saying the levee must be built.

Proponents say the levee is needed to protect downtown and to attract new business and industry. Opponents call it unnecessary, ecologically unsound, too costly and an aesthetic mistake.

″The issue has definitely split the community,″ Edmonston said. ″There are families where the husband believes in it and the wife doesn’t.″

″It’s a sorry situation, really,″ Nevins said. ″You have friends for years and years, and they may speak, they may smile - but you know there’s that tension there.″

Four years ago in Williamsport, Lycoming County, Democrat Jessie L. Bloom, 57, became the city’s first woman mayor. The city has long been a destination for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts who were either referred there or heard about the pleasant town from friends.

″It’s beautiful, it’s very slow-paced compared with the city,″ Bloom said. ″They come here and think they’re in paradise.″

But she claims the flow has slowed since she got the state health department to tell rehab centers to stop referring patients there.

Her Republican opponent is a police detective, Lt. Philip E. Preziosi, 53, who takes a hard line on the newcomers.

″We don’t want you to detract from the quality of life of longtime residents,″ he said of the newcomers. ″If you’re coming here, you conform to our way of life.″

Hazleton, a city of 24,000 in Luzerne County, features a race between an incumbent, Democrat John Quigley, 32, and a former mayor, John Ford, 60. Ford was elected in 1985 but served just two years because the city changed forms of government in 1987, when Quigley was elected and Ford became a councilman.

Democratic Mayor Lee Namey, 46, is trying for a second term in Wilkes- Barre, Luzerne County, and faces a doughnut shop owner, Republican Paul DeFabo, 51. Revitalizing the downtown and proceeding with the costly closing of the East Side landfill are key issues.

In Chester, outside Philadelphia, Republican Willie Mae Leake, 59, is seeking a second term. She is the former secretary to former Mayor Jack Nacrelli, who resigned in 1979 and spent two years in prison for bribery. Her Democratic opponent is Barbara Bohannan-Sheppard, 41, a former day-care operator.

In Reading, Berks County, Democratic incumbent Warren H. Haggerty Jr., 35, faces Louis R. Perugini Jr., 50, an automotive parts businessman who has not held public office. Haggerty, fomerly executive assistant to Mayor Karen Miller, was appointed mayor in 1987 when Miller became state secretary of Community Affairs. He was elected later that year.

In Northampton County, Easton Mayor Sal Panto Jr., 42, a Democrat, is running for a third term against Republican Thomas Goldsmith, a financial consultant and former city councilman. Issues include taxes, sewage treatment and the local economy.

Carbondale Mayor John Moran, 40, is seeking a second term against Republican Joseph Vadella, 33, a local businessman.

In Lebanon, Republican Mayor Betty J. Eiceman is running unopposed for a second term.

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