Mayor won’t seek re-election
LOCK HAVEN –Lock Haven Mayor William E. “Bill” Baney III has announced he will not seek re-election.
But two of his fellow city councilmembers say they want the job.
Councilmen Richard Conklin, a Republican, and Joel Long, Democrat, confirmed to The Express they plan to throw their hats into the ring this year.
Baney was elected mayor in 2016 after serving as a city councilman for two terms.
His term as mayor will officially expire on Jan. 6, 2020.
“I fulfilled a childhood dream when I was elected three years ago,” Baney said in a prepared statement provided to The Express.
Baney expressed gratitude toward members of council and the city manager.
“During my term as mayor, the city is moving forward with an excellent city council, and a very capable city manager in Greg Wilson,” he said. “We have had no tax increases while I have been in office. When I was sworn into office, I stated my obligation was to the taxpayers of Lock Haven. Hopefully, I have done that, and will continue to do so through the end of my term.”
“As always it’s a delicate balance between raising taxes or not. We have been in a good financial position for a year, as some of the higher salaried personnel retired. It looks like we could go another year without seeing a tax increase, but after that all bets are off,” he continued.
Baney said he’s leaving the door open to his political career.
“I will continue to re-evaluate my political options for this year and will make an announcement about my future at that time,” he said without elaborate.
As for Lock Haven, Baney intimated that he wants only the best for the city.
“I hope the next mayor has a true love and compassion for the city the way I do,” he said. “In talking to a number of prospective candidates, I know there is a passion for at least two of them.”
He said he was referring to Conklin and Long.
The 2019 election will be Conklin’s second attempt at running for mayor.
He ran for mayor against Baney in 2016 and lost by 13 votes in an exceptionally tight race.
Conklin, a pastor serving three local United Methodist churches, has been involved in city government for over a decade, first as a member of the city planning commission and then as a councilman for nearly 12 years.
Conklin’s current term on council will expire on Jan. 3, 2022.
“I’ve been on council for quite awhile and my thought is that I would like the opportunity to lead the city,” Conklin told The Express by telephone Wednesday as to why he’s running again. “I feel we need a strong candidate … somebody that’s in the public on a regular basis. Although our mayor is very active I feel we’ve lost that public face that spends time in town.”
“I feel like my leadership skills would be certainly put to better use as a mayor,” he continued. “My interaction with the folks at Harrisburg with the Pennsylvania Municipal League would carry a little more weight. I felt like it was time.”
Conklin said he’s working on his campaign platform for the race but noted a primary message is that he wants to improve residents’ quality of life.
“Improve the quality of life here so that people want to live here,” he said.
He believes those at the city government level only operate the city, not own it.
“The residents own the city,” he said.
Councilman Joel Long used social media on Tuesday to informally announce he will run for mayor.
“I’ve decided to run for mayor in the 2019 election,” he announced.
Long has served on city council for a total of 12 years, 10 of which were served from 1998 to 2007.
His most recent term is set to expire Jan. 3, 2022.
Before this current term, Long served as a Clinton County commissioner for two, four-year terms from 2008 until 2015.
Long works as an auditor for the state Department of Auditor General.
“I think it’s something that anyone that serves on council thinks about,” Long said about his intent to run for mayor. “I think I’d do well with it. The role of the mayor is kind of to be the base of the city and chair council meetings. I believe I’d do both of those things very well.”
Long said he’s also working on his campaign platform and it will involve focusing on the good things about the city.
“There are so many great things about the City of Lock Haven,” he said. “I want to focus on the good things. We have things to deal with that aren’t positive … parking meters and tearing down buildings, which we will deal with … but we need to put focus on the great things of Lock Haven. I think it’s the role of council and the mayor to get the focus in that direction.”
Those wishing to get their name on the May 21 primary election ballot may begin the process on Feb. 19, the first day to circulate and file nomination petitions.
The last day to circulate and file nomination petitions is March 12. For those not registered to vote in the primary, April 22 is the last day to register to vote and May 14 is the last day to apply for a civilian absentee ballot.