Business

Entrepreneur, former writer kicks off 2021 Harrisburg mayor’s race with web site, survey – PennLive

The founder and former publisher of Central Penn Business Journal gave what businessmen often like to call a “soft opening” to a potential run for mayor of Harrisburg next year.

Dave Schankweiler’s likely campaign kicked off with a Tuesday morning text pinging cell phones around the region with a link to his candidate Web site at https://daveforhbg.org. On it, he states “I’m planning to announce a run for mayor of Harrisburg” in early 2021.

Schankweiler, who has lived in the Harrisburg region since his childhood and lived in the city since 2017, would be seeking the Democratic Party nomination for the city’s top elected office. County voter registration records show that he changed his registration from Republican to Democrat in December 2019.

A candidacy would put Schankweiler on a direct collision course with two-term incumbent Eric Papenfuse. Papenfuse, responding to Schankweiler’s launch, told PennLive by text Tuesday that he will be seeking a third term next year.

The Democratic primary is often decisive in Harrisburg, because of the party’s overwhelming voter registration edge in the city, where the current population is estimated at 49,271.

Schankweiler, if he follows through with Tuesday’s launch, and Papenfuse may not be the only candidates in that race.

Local political observers also say former Harrisburg City Councilman Otto V. Banks is testing the waters on a mayoral campaign. Banks, who PennLive could not reach for this report, served on Harrisburg’s City Council from 2002 through 2005, but lost re-election to a second term that year after switching his party registration and running as a Republican.

Over the last decade, Banks has been working as the executive director of a Harrisburg-based organization dedicated to raising tuition scholarships designed to help low-income and minority families statewide have more choice in what schools their children attend.

Banks, in April of this year, changed his party registration back to Democrat, voter registration records show, and has moved his official resident from the East Shore suburbs back into the city.

Schankweiler, on his new Web site, argues “the leadership of the city over the past 20 years has been lackluster — a kind of colorless management that doesn’t inspire or cast a vision.”

To that end, he said he is kicking off this pre-announcement phase of his campaign by inviting residents to take a survey that, in a brief interview with PennLive Tuesday, Schankweiler said will help him further refine his vision for Harrisburg and his platform for the campaign ahead.

“Right now, I’m focused on kind of a listening tour,” Schankweiler said, deferring most other questions about his candidacy until after a more formal and final announcement this winter.

Schankweiler said he is also getting his survey out to city residents via the mail, and door-to-door canvassing.

Schankweiler, 61, is founder, and former CEO and owner of Journal Multimedia, which produced several publications including the Central Penn Business Journal, Lehigh Valley Business, and Central Penn Parent. After 32 years of growing the company, Schankweiler sold the business to New Media Inc. in 2016 for a reported $18 million.

Schankweiler was named in early 2019 by state Senate Republicans to Harrisburg’s Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, a financial oversight body set up by the state in exchange for an extension of the city’s enhanced taxing powers.

Schankweiler resigned from the authority board in September 2019. He said at the time that another “opportunity,” which he declined to specify, prevented him from continuing to serve on the body.

His resume also includes service as founding board chair for Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.

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