Long – city image is a top priority
LOCK HAVEN — Lock Haven mayoral candidate Joel Long said his platform has not changed since he first ran for city council in 1997.
The only candidate on the Democratic ballot in Tuesday’s primary election, Long said improving the city and encouraging people to make the area their home is one of the most important things to him.
“My brother lives six and a half to seven hours away from here, because when he was making his decision on where he was going to make his life he didn’t feel like Lock Haven had what he needed to make his life here,” Long remembers saying during the first Democratic dinner he attended over 20 years ago.
“He’s my best friend in the world, and at the time I had no children… but I felt that if I could do anything to make it so my children didn’t need to make that decision when the time came, I wanted to be a part of that,” he explained.
Although jobs and taxes are important, Long feels the city’s image is just as much if not more so.
“I think one of the most important things we actually have control over, besides setting the rate of tax, is our image,” Long said about the mayor and city council’s role. “What people think of us makes all the difference in the world on whether they want to locate their business here, whether they want to live here and raise their children here.”
He joined the political world in the hopes that he could help make the city a better place.
“I think that we get too caught up in the negatives of our community,” he said. “You’re never going to stop negatives, they’re always going to be there and you can’t ignore them, you have to address them. But we tend to lose focus on what we have here. We have a beautiful town.”
Long explained that due to his job as an auditor, he visits many towns throughout Pennsylvania.
“I go to places where there are entire blocks with store fronts that are empty. The streets look dirty and things like that,” he said. “When I go there to do their audits and check them out, I come back here and realize just how lucky we are.”
“We have a beautiful downtown, we have a beautiful town in general,” he continued.
However, Long feels there can be improvements made to the city to make it even better.
Currently, he feels that the city is in a perfect position to make improvement due to the change in leadership at both Lock Haven University and the Keystone Central School District.
“I think right now we are uniquely poised to make some great things happen for the city of Lock Haven and the area,” he said. “The new president of Lock Haven University is a very positive thinker and open to working with the city on a relationship.”
“I think that, although the school district has its issues, there’s finally some leadership there now that is truly addressing the issues and taking a thoughtful approach,” he continued.
If elected as mayor, Long feels he can help cultivate relationships between the two organizations and the city.
“I want to be able to work even more closely with those people to make where we live a better place,” he said.
He would also like to see the city focus a little more on environmental and fiscal awareness and how they can sometimes go hand in hand.
“When you can find something that does both things there’s no reason that you shouldn’t be trying to get into that,” he said.
Solar panels is an example he used that could not only help reduce the amount of carbon emissions in the air, but also save the city money.
“When you can put solar panels somewhere and connect them to the grid and it cuts your bill by tens of thousands of dollars and you’re not creating more carbon gases, isn’t that the right thing to do for both the environment and for being fiscally responsible,” he said.
Long would also like to see the city take steps to become more friendly to those visiting the area through various events.
He spoke about the open container law, which council recently updated to permit organizations to have events with alcohol.
“I think that we are taking steps to try and become more friendly,” he said.
He also expressed the importance of events such as the Summer Concert Series, which he helped organize.
“It definitely makes an impact to do those types of things and we need to find positive ways to grow that,” he said.
His 20 years of experience as an elected official is another reason he feels he’s right for the job.
“There’s certainly some important things that the city is dealing with that I feel my experience of being an elected official for 20 years, particularly the mayor position, would be helpful” he said.
His experience with running meetings is something that he feels is important for a mayor, he said.
“Knowing how to chair a meeting to make it be effective is important and not everyone has that skill,” he said. “I’ve done it for a lot of years, I understand Robert’s Rules of Order, how to keep the meeting flowing along and not getting bogged down with things.”
Long believes the mayor is there to help keep a meeting running smoothly and ensuring everyone has a chance to speak.
Experience in general is something that Long feels matters when it comes to this position.
“Experience does matter and I’m the most experienced of the three people who have put their name out for this position,” he said. “I’m experienced at multiple levels of government and working, not only in government, but with smaller agencies to get funds… to grow organizations and keep them healthy.”
“We’re trying to grow and make (the city) healthy and keep it healthy,” he said. “I honestly believe we have one of the best little secrets in the state.”
“Living here all my life I’m sure I’ve complained just like everybody else has, but if you shut off the social media for a bit and take a look around… that’s why we should be doing this,” he continued. “Because we love this town and we want the absolute best for the town and its citizens.”
Being elected as mayor would continue a commitment he has had to the city for over 20 years, he said.
“It continues my commitment,” he said. “I’ve been committed to the city of Lock Haven and the area as a whole for over 20 years and not just in elected office.”
Long has been or is currently involved in various organizations including the board of Little League.
He also helped organize a group to continue youth basketball after the school district cut the program.
“Those things are too important to let them fall by the wayside,” he said.
The need to help the community is something that has been a part of Long for a long time.
“It’s just part of me, I love where I live,” he said. “I can sit back and complain or I can try to make a difference.”