Long edges out Brinker for mayor
By LAURA JAMESON
LOCK HAVEN — Voters in the city’s 3rd Ward tipped the scales in Democrat Joel Long’s favor Tuesday to give the vice president of council the new title of Lock Haven mayor in 2020.
It was a tight race against Republican challenger Jeff Brinker.
An hour after the polls closed, the city’s 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th Wards gave 450 votes to Long and a close 424 votes to Brinker.
But then the city’s 3rd Ward results came in and boosted Long’s lead by 41 votes.
The unofficial results show Long with 629 votes to Brinker’s 588.
There were 13 write-in votes.
Results are considered unofficial until a recount is started this Friday.
If results hold they will show that 1,230 city residents cast ballots for mayor Tuesday amid a total registration in the city’s five wards of 4,373.
That represents a turnout of just 28 percent.
“I’m deeply honored. To be mayor of Lock Haven is a fantastic dream,” Long told The Express last night. “I hope that I can do a great job for the city and make the citizens proud of me.”
He thanked Brinker for “a good race and I wish him well.”
Long has served on City Council for multiple terms since 1998 and currently holds a full time position with the Auditor General of Pennsylvania.
Lock Haven has a council-manager form of government with a full-time, appointed manager.
The mayor’s job is considered part-time and he or she has an equal vote with council members.
Long began a career in politics as a Lock Haven councilman in 1998, serving 10 years on council.
He then ran for and won two terms as a Clinton County commissioner.
He returned to council in January of 2018 and was elected vice president of council in 2019.
Long believes that residents’ somewhat negative perception of the city and aging infrastructure are two major issues he’d like to tackle as mayor.
During his years on council and as a commissioner, Long worked on various projects such as downtown streetscapes that included improvements to sidewalks, lighting and store signage in an effort to bring new life to downtown Lock Haven.
Long has served as first vice president of SEDA COG, chairman of Susque-View Board and VOCA (Voices of Crime Act) funding board. He’s participated on other boards and committees that include Downtown Lock Haven, Inc., the Ross Library Board, STEP Inc., Aging Advisory Board, Advocates for a Drug Free Tomorrow, Western Clinton County Recreation Authority, Revolving Loan Board, Clinton County Sewer Authority, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Tourism Infrastructure Committee and Summer Concert Series Committee.
He’s spearheaded various projects such as bringing cellular service to Western Clinton County and studies on expanding natural gas usage during his political career.
A community volunteer, Long helped construct the Tiger Den playground at Dickey Elementary School and create a non-profit organization to save youth basketball in the area.
He is a member of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, a Third Degree Knight of Columbus and has served three terms as president of Lock Haven/Flemington Little League.
He lives in Lock Haven with his wife, Mitzi, and four children.
A newcomer to politics, Brinker ran on a campaign as a “positive voice” for the city. He’s a Central Mountain High School educator and soccer coach.