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Councilman plans to run for mayor

January 03, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - Councilman James G. McCleaf II said he's running for mayor in the March election.

It's still too early to tell who he might face, if anyone. Mayor John W. Slayman, 72, said Sunday that he hasn't decided whether to run for a sixth term.

"I'm still contemplating," he said.

Asked why he is running for mayor, McCleaf said a quote he heard recently sums it up: "We think it is better for things to run poorly and smoothly than to run rough and effectively."

McCleaf, 34, said the town has good employees, but they probably are not used in the best way. He proposed a total reorganization.

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"I would like to take a spatula, stick it in the office, turn it upside down and start over," he said.

As of last week, no one had filed to run for any of the four offices that will be on the ballot, including McCleaf's council seat.

In Williamsport, candidates often wait until the last few days to file. This year's deadline is Feb. 18.

McCleaf said he plans to wait to file, too, partly because of a town prohibition against running for one seat while holding another.

In May 2000, the town council changed the town's charter to say that anyone who holds office and runs for another position has to resign from the office he or she holds.

Earle Pereschuk Sr. said at the time that the change was aimed at him. He was forced to resign as a councilman to run against Slayman for mayor in 2001. Slayman won.

McCleaf said he won't have to resign right away if he doesn't file as a candidate right away.

The election is March 6. The mayor's seat, the assistant mayor's seat and two council positions will be on the ballot.

McCleaf said he started attending council meetings in 1998.

"I wanted to see how they spent my money," he said.

He lost his first run for a council seat in 1999, then won in the 2001 election.

He said a top issue on his mayoral platform is offering safe activities for children. He thinks the town, the school system and the local churches should work together on a plan.

McCleaf also said the town should include residents on various committees instead of relying solely on council members.

"I think our whole committee system is really lousy," he said.

"It's been done that way for years," Slayman said.

He said he has thought about changing it, but council members might be "a little more aware" of the issues than the general public.

McCleaf said the town doesn't plan enough for the future, but Slayman disagreed. However, "you just can't go too far," Slayman said. "You get yourself in trouble."

McCleaf said the mayor should take more of a stand on issues. Sometimes, at meetings, Slayman tells the audience that decisions are up to the council, not him.

"That's a cop-out," McCleaf said. "That makes me so upset when he does that. He is our leader. You've got to stick to your convictions."

McCleaf is a manager at Hopewell Manufacturing in Halfway, which builds outdoor exhibit bases, such as what can be found at national parks.

He and his wife, Jennifer, have a 4-year-old son, James Grayson McCleaf III, who goes by his middle name.

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