AP NEWS

Wilkes-Barre Candidates Talk Issues At Forum

May 7, 2019

WILKES-BARRE — When mayoral candidates George Brown and Tony George spoke Monday about what work needs to be done in the city, they pointed to some of the same issues: efforts to reduce crime and blight.

But ask them how that work is progressing, and they painted different pictures of how effective recent initiatives have been.

Each of the candidates for mayor made their case at a forum hosted at Wilkes University by the Downtown Residents Association. Candidates for controller and for city council districts B and C also spoke.

George was the first to take to the podium, and after going over his background, he pointed to work his administration has done since he was elected as the reason voters should pick him again.

He mentioned police operations that involved local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including one that police announced the results of Monday. Those multi-agency operations are not unique to his administration, but George said they demonstrate “law and order” — the slogan for his first campaign.

Those operations, he said, let people know that if they come to the city and commit crimes, they will be arrested.

His administration has also demolished 37 blighted properties, he said.

“I think the city is running in the direction we want,” he said.

Brown was the next to speak. He told a story about his granddaughter skipping a weekly visit because of a shooting in his neighborhood.

“Folks, I’m the man who ran against the mayor four years ago when he ran on law and order. And I’m telling you tonight, we don’t have law and order,” he said.

Later, Brown turned his attention to city staffing, specifically for the fire department.

“The 2019 budget our mayor submitted to city council that council members approved called for 63 firefighters. We’re running today at 53,” he said. “Why aren’t we hiring those ten firefighters? I have to ask that question.

Finally, Brown mentioned his education and work experience as qualifications that would help him as a mayor.

City resident and Downtown Residents Association member William Lewis listened to each of the candidates for mayor make his case.

He’s looking for a more responsive city government.

“(We need) to improve our infrastructure and our roads, to clean up crime. There’s a lot of blight, even in the downtown area we see some blight. We’re luckier than a lot of the other neighborhoods but we still have some abandoned homes and some absentee landlords,” he said. “The way things are going now isn’t quite up to par, I would say.”

Contact the writer:

bwellock@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2051, @CVBillW