Tuesday, May 05, 2015

The LuLac Edition #2891, May 5th, 2015


Pictured are the candidates at Wilkes College last night. Democrats Brian Kelly, George Brown, Tony George, Darlne Duggins Magdalinki and Frank Sorick. (Photo: LuLac).
Wilkes Barre Mayoral candidates met at a public forum at Wilkes College Monday night. Topics were crime, pension funds, getting more revenue for the city, the future of the city as well as what they thought of former mayors.
CRIME: All agreed that something had to be done with this issue. George Brown spoke about task force already in place and that served as a impetus to ramp up the fight against the bad guys. Brown cited the involvement of the DA's office and the state officials as examples.
Tony George said that there had to be a dedicated unit to go after criminals. Saying the city was easy pickings for criminals, he said that there had to be a knock on the door to inform those with criminal intent that the first time was a warning. The second one time there would be a battering ram.
Brian Kelly said there had to be a dedicated violent crime unit as well as appointing a Police Commissioner.
Darlene Duggins Magdalinski pointed out that there had to be more accountability of residents to get the city back on the track to safety. She also referred to her time in Newark and said she did not want the city to go down the road that the New Jersey city took.
GOP candidate Frank Sorick spoke of moving to Wilkes Barre after deeming it safer than Scranton. Sorick agreed with the others that this was a turning point for the city saying that crime problems had to be solved with more police and a restructuring of how crime is fought.
On pensions all agreed that there had to be financial experts called in to capitalize on the best way to solve the problem.
Sorick gave credit to Mayor Leighton for starting a reform for new employees as well as council who voted not to take a pension. But he slammed the public officials who were taking pensions after being paid as public officials. When he did that he got the biggest applause of the night.
On non profits contributing more to the city all had different approaches. George suggested a surcharge on each student of King's and Wilkes, Kelly and Brown favored a more aggressive approach to try an negotiate while Sorick said that it was crazy for a hotel to be part of a nonprofit college when it was formerly a for profit entity.
My impressions were the front runners Brown and George did not deviate from their campaign messages. If you want a reasonable logical Mayor, Brown is your guy. Brown even went out of his way to say he disagreed with the current Mayor on some issues.
George presented an image of a rough and tumble tough cop who would make the city safe first and then build on that. He told the audience it would not happen overnight.
Kelly seemed innovate and folksy, a softer version of the late Bob Wilkie (Chief aide to Mayor McLaughlin in the 80s until his death in early 1989) type administrator who would not be afraid to ask for help and take innovative approaches.
Duggins Magdalinkski brought a very straight forward approach and impressed everyone with her not avoiding any question. If she wasn't up to speed on something she admitted it. She also got signs of approval for her work as a community advocate.
Sorick got a very good reception from the crowd. A long time Mayoral critic, Sorick gave credit where it was due and was reasonable. Plus most of his answers garnered the most applause.
As I left the building a political wag said to me, "If Sorick was a D, those other four would be worried".
That was a little extreme to me but not so far out there. Sorick needs a base to compete.
Over 125 people came out.


A question was asked what each candidate thought of previous mayors.
Answers that stood out were Brown's and George's.
Brown said Mayor Lee Namey mentored him politically and gave credit to Mayor Leighton for cleaning up a financial deficit from Mayor McGroarty. George countered that McGroarty was on the scene with his neighborhood impact team and was enthusiastic about fighting crime. He pointed out he worked with 5 mayors going back to Walter Lisman and took a little bit from all of them in trying to lead the city.
While all this was going on the current Mayor Tom Leighton was there taking it in all in pondering as he told me earlier in the evening the next chapter of his life. While his would be successors said they all might do things differently, everyone of them did give him credit for some steps he made as Mayor. Praise from your would be replacements is not a bad way to go out.


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