Recently, people have asked “Why? Why are you working for and supporting Eric Papenfuse for Mayor?” “Well,” I say, “it just makes sense.”

neil_grover_headOkay, if you know me, you know I can’t keep answers that short. No, it’s just not in my DNA. So let me try to explain what makes sense to me.

Harrisburg needs a strong manager, one with a proven record. That’s Eric.

The Office of Mayor is essentially the chief manager and head cheerleader for the City. Eric has proven he knows how to manage. He knows how to promote. He has built a business from nothing, not only in the Midtown Scholar Bookstore, but in local warehouses, handling a huge inventory of books every day and providing real jobs for many people. He’s hired more than 200 people, right in and outside the City. You cannot do that and sustain a business that size without knowing how to manage the very things a Mayor must manage: money, workers, resources and time.

Eric has helped transform the Midtown where he located his store. He didn’t just open the store and stop there. He had a vision. He thought it would be smart to bring art, food, comfort, books and a sense of community wherever he did business. He has worked tirelessly to make that vision a reality. And he succeeded. In the midst of the Great Recession and the Harrisburg Debt Crisis, he succeeded. He brought artist lofts, a print shop, a bakery, a provider of children’s books, building renovations and more to the few blocks that surround the Bookstore. He grew and encouraged new businesses, encouraging them to grow, branching off from the strong tree that he helped take root.

There is a word for that. Success. Our city, the City of Harrisburg, needs success.

We are desperate for it. Choosing someone for Mayor who has proven that they can make something from nothing, through hard work, discipline, focus and planning – doing that just makes sense to me.

I live and work in Harrisburg. I’ve been raising a family here. Like many in the City, I worry. I worry about crime. I worry about schools. I worry about the financial disaster that has overtaken every aspect of our City, from the ragged conditions of streets, to too many blocks of darkened lights, to how difficult it’s become to get a phone answered, paperwork processed, or information from City Hall. And I try my best to do something about City problems, unwilling to accept that Harrisburg is just fated to fail. So I know what you know – something has to change.

In Eric, I see someone who has proven he can address the very things that worry so many of us. And succeed.

When Eric sees a problem, he works to address it. Not everyone might agree on a proposed solution, but he works to show why a solution will work and will work toward a different solution when a better idea comes along.

When armed robberies and attacks were on the rise near his store, near the homes in the streets that his customers and neighbors walk, he dove in for a solution. He found a way to bring more police throughout the neighborhood at night. He didn’t reinvent the wheel, but instead worked with others to outline funding and logistics, collaborating to get a detailed plan. He brought the plan to the public, to meeting after meeting. Learning what people thought, the plan was updated and he worked to persuade detractors (myself included) of the benefit a steadier police presence would bring to the area and the City. And what process did he push to deliver more night patrols? A vote. He asked neighbors to vote, willing to put his work, his ideas and a plan to the test. Eric has shown confidence in others, trusting that people can make good decisions when given the facts and given the chance.

Our City, the City of Harrisburg, needs success.

Being Harrisburg, the vote never happened. The plan was scuttled. City Hall changed their input right before ballots were set to be mailed, sending the whole thing back to square one. But Eric didn’t pack up or walk away. He didn’t go sulk. Eric went back to work.

I would like to see Eric apply that same energy and focus to our City government. If he can turn a business and a community vision into a reality on Third Street, what could happen if his job was focusing on the whole City? If he can attract businesses in the middle of a recession and City Debt Crisis, what could he do as Mayor? If he can convince other businesses to take a chance and give them confidence to open their doors where he set up shop, what would happen if his job was to attract businesses to the whole City? If in the middle of government cuts, he actually found a way to better fight neighborhood crime, what if he was given responsibility for the safety of our whole City?

What does Eric bring to City Hall that’s missing? What can he do differently? What is the best predictor of what a Papenfuse Administration would mean to local government? One that matters: a history of real measurable success.

So that’s why Eric. That’s why now. Because Harrisburg needs a Mayor who can change things and make things happen, with a vision for the future. Our City needs a successful manager, who we know can make something from nothing and change things for the better. Eric’s done it before. We need a Mayor who does not just say things can be better, but someone who’s proven he can make things better. So I’m voting Papenfuse for Mayor. He’s who we need now. It just makes sense.

Neil Grover

Neil Grover

Neil Grover

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