The founder of the Central Penn Business Journal, Dave Schankweiler, announced on Friday that he’s running for mayor of the city of Harrisburg.
Schankweiler, the retired CEO for the publication’s parent company, released a virtual announcement speech filmed at Harrisburg University, instead of hosting a live event because of the pandemic and CDC guidelines.
He is seeking the Democratic nomination in the primary race this year in the predominantly Democratic city, likely against the current mayor, Eric Papenfuse, who is widely expected to run for a third term. Schankweiler formerly was a Republican and said in his speech he is “proud to be a convert to the Democratic party.”
His campaign speech kicked off with references to the city’s gun violence, housing issues and the 50-percent graduation rate for high schoolers.
“That’s the reality when a city doesn’t work for everyone,” Schankweiler said, “when you live in one of Harrisburg’s neighborhoods that do not receive the grants or see the ribbon cuttings or get the attention so desperately needed. But for others, the news is good. The future looks bright. It’s almost as if that other part of the city doesn’t exist, and that’s not their fault at all. They’re doing their part to make the city thrive.”
This marks the first run for political office for Schankweiler, who said he has more than three decades of experience creating jobs in the city through his company that he started in 1984. He sold the business to New Media Inc. in 2016 for $18 million. He also is a founder and former board chairman of Harrisburg University and a former member of the city’s Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority.
Schankweiler first lived in the city from 1984 to 1991, then bought a home on Front Street in 2016 that he fixed up and his family moved in the following year.
He conducted a survey in December among city residents to find out their top concerns.
“I wanted to listen before I asked for a vote,” he said.
His campaign theme is “A city that works for everyone.” His platform priorities, are to:
Prioritize the city’s response to rising crimeOffer a post-Covid plan for economic development and job creationRenew the focus on student safety and opportunityRestore vital cooperation between the mayor, city council and other government officialsEstablish a responsive process for resident ideas, strategy and action
“I know for me—like many of you—I’ve had it,” he said in his speech Friday. “I’ve had it with old politics and promises that never come true. I’m not in this to be a politician. I’m in this because I love this city. I love the people of this city. But I’m heartbroken by what’s happening on our streets. And I would hate for us to lose this generation because we did nothing.”
Following his announcement, Schankweiler said he plans to make campaign stops in the Allison Hill and Uptown districts with former Harrisburg City Council president, Gloria Martin Roberts.
Martin Roberts ran unsuccessfully against Papenfuse for the Democratic nomination in 2017. But last year, Papenfuse tried to hire Martin Roberts to facilitate communications between the administration and council, the Dauphin County commissioners and the public. City council, however, rejected the proposed contract and expressed issues with the timing just before the 2021 mayoral campaign.
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