Stephen Reed, Mayor of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

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Comments in support of
Stephen Reed
Mayor of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (USA)

The finalists for the 2006 World Mayor Award were chosen on the number of votes received as well as on the persuasiveness and conviction of supporting statements. Below we publish an representative selection of comments received about the mayor.

Comment: I attended Harrisburg Area Community College in the early 70s. Steve Reed was a classmate and the President of the Student Government Association at the same time, and we all expected him to be Pennsylvania's governor some day. I'm glad he never left home. He's the best thing that ever happened to our city.

Comment: Mayor Reed is Harrisburg. His accomplishments over the past several years are remarkable. Harrisburg is advancing and growing at an unbelievable rate.  It is finally becoming deserving of the status of the capital of Pennsylvania that it already has. This is in large part due to Mayor Reed. He is a familiar face on the streets of the City and is very accessible. Often, it is Mayor Reed you see on television or hear on the radio providing information about good and bad things that are going on in the city rather than some scripted spokesperson. This man is caucasian in a city where this is most certainly the minority and he has managed to connect with and earn the respect of all races.

Comment: As a Harrisburg native, I can attest to the turnaround in quality of life and civic pride in the region. He has revitalized the economy and made Harrisburg a vibrant city, with a beautiful waterfront and active nightlife. His forward-looking goals, such as Harrisburg University, have laid the groundwork for continued development long after he leaves office.  Finally, on a personal note, he is open to the people - he is often first on the scene of emergencies and crimes, even overnight. He also took the time out of his busy schedule so that I could interview him for an undergraduate thesis paper on the towns revitalization. This willingness to teach others about his experience will ensure that Harrisburg and other towns benefit from his knowledge.

Comment: When I moved to Harrisburg from downtown Philadelphia in 1990, I experienced a hard dose of culture shock.  Having lived in a vibrant urban center with a large and long-established entertainment district, I was used to having more than enough choices for places to go and things to do with my free time.  But Harrisburg at that time was still in the early stages of what would become a remarkable transformation, and there were still only a handful of restaurants/taverns that could seriously be said to compare with those in Philadelphia.  Missing too were the other cultural amenities that mark a true city -- museums, upscale shopping, and a general sense of self-confidence.

By the time I moved back to Philadelphia in 1994, in Steve Reed's 12th year as mayor, much had changed, and the city's perception of itself was very much on the upswing.  Developers had begun investing in the downtown, and the City's finances were on a solid footing.  Where once had stood seedy bars and pornographic movie houses, there were now family-friendly restaurants and shops.    

When I moved back to Harrisburg in 1996, the difference between then and 1990 was eye-popping.  The downtown revitalization had taken deep root, and major hotel chains, including Hilton, had taken notice and dropped anchor on 2nd Street.  In the 10 years since then, there has been nothing but continued progress, as Steve Reed has been re-elected to a record 7th term as mayor. 

The city under Mayor Reed's leadership has earned, I believe, every civic honor awarded by the many national associations and boards that monitor government budgeting performance, police and fire personnel accreditation, and numerous other such things. 

Mr. Reed's performance as Mayor, and his well-earned reputation as someone uniquely suited to transforming problems into triumphs, prompted the Pennsylvania legislature to give him control over the Harrisburg City School District.  Since that time, the district's performance measures have steadily improved.  Mr. Reed also took on the challenge of starting up, from scratch, a 4-year city-based university, the Harrisburg Universtiy of Science & Technology.  This is just one of many examples of an idea that was at first scoffed at by many in the local and regional communities, only to be later applauded. 

Another such venture is the city-owned Double-A minor league baseball team, the Harrisburg Senators, who play on City Island, which at the time of Mayor Reed's first taking office was nothing but a weed-strewn, rodent-infested eyesore in the Susquehanna River.  City Island today is roundly considered one of the gems of the greater southcentral Pennsylvania region.

Comment: If every city had a mayor like Steve Reed, many urban problems would be resolved. This man's passion for the city of Harrisburg, his relentless energy on behalf of the city and its citizens, his vision and his ability to engage diverse partners in making his vision a reality are unsurpassed. The city was on the verge of bankruptcy when he was first elected as mayor in 1982 at the age of 32. The city was on decline with businesses and people leaving and the educational system failing. Under Mayor Reed's leadership the city has truly experienced a renaissance. Some of his many accomplishments include City Island and its minor league ball park, riverboat and recreational facilities--which has become a significant uniter of the historically divided east and west shores of the Susquehanna; a new downtown cultural center, the Whitaker Center; a thriving "restaurant row" where business previously fled; vibrant business and economic development; the Strawberry Square shopping, dining and business complex; and restoration and revitalization of many deteriorating neighborhoods. In addition, since he gained control of the city school system several years ago, the school system has made incredible strides in rebounding from decades of decline. Mayor Reed deserves recognition for his dedication to the city of Harrisburg and the city owes him a debt of gratitude. Many comment that he is "mayor for life" or as long as he wants the title. I cannot imagine any individual more deserving of the World Mayor title than Stephen R. Reed, who is truly a mayor extraordinaire.

Comment: I am new to Pennsylvania from New York City. I had some issues with one of the city agencies in Harrisburg and I wrote a letter to Mayor Reed. Not only did Mayor Reed personally take care of the situation, he wrote a letter to me explaining how he agreed with me about the situation and how he was glad I brought it to his attention! Now that's a mayor who cares about his city.

Comment: Mayor Reed has done a phenomenal job with the school district, and he truly believes in a democratic education for all children and youth.

Comment: Mayor Reed has devoted his many terms in office to make Harrisburg what it is today. He has turned the Harrisburg School District around 100%. Scores are on the rise, graduation rates have increased dramatically and people are no longer afraid to dine in one of the many nice restaurants along 2nd Street or visit the City for its festivities throughout the summer months. He is a Mayor who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes the City he was hired to serve. He deserves the World Mayor Award.

Comment: Mayor Stephen Reed has been elected Mayor of Harrisburg, PA, for 7 consecutive terms!  He is a Democrat, but wins the Republican primary as a write-in!  In his time as Mayor, he has transformed the City of Harrisburg by his vision ability to make his dreams become a reality.  He is a true public servant and has no political ambitions other than to be the best Mayor of Harrisburg that he can be.

Comment: I am a 11th grade student, at Harrisburg High School. Thanks, Mayor Reed for giving me all of the opportunities I have. I have a safer walk home now, thanks to you.

Comment: I fled Harrisburg for Boston in the 70's and vowed never to return. But after 18 years back I promote the region as a better place than Boston, for the vibrant culture and design environment, not just the ubiquitous 'lower cost of living.' Lastly, acquiescing to control of the city schools, the Mayor has created an environment in which urban youth can triumph. Mayor Reed is the hope for America, not just the city of Harrisburg!

Comment: Steve Reed can be mayor of Harrisburg for life.  In fact, it is his life.  For over twenty years he has brought this town out of the downtown decline that plagues most US cities because he works like a business owner would.  You can expect him to be almost anywhere in the city at any time.  I don't know how he does it.

Comment: Mayor Stephen Reed has dedicated his life to improving the City of Harrisburg. Even tonight as I nominate him for World Mayor, he is watching the river and activating plans to endure to citizens are safe if the rain continues to fall and the river floods. He is not sitting back on his past good deeds. He works long hours evey day to improve the vision that is Harrisburg.

Comment: Stephen Reed is an amazing Mayor who has done so much for our city. He fights for the underdog and does everything in his power to make our city better. Year after year, he has visions of making Harrisburg one of the best places to live, and each year he succeeds. He truly deserves the World Mayor title!

Comment: Stephen Reed has committed his very soul to public service and is a tireless and positive force for change and improvement. Over the years, he has taken our tired, grey city and filled it with life and color and he always gives the impression that he has only just begun. He is a leader and wastes no time in party politics. I believe that most people who reside in Harrisburg would agree to let Steve Reed be Mayor for Life if that is what he so desired. Lets hope good things will happen to good people. Good Luck Mayor Reed!

Comment: Mayor Reed has made many changes in the Harrisburg area, and Harrisburg school district. While growing up in Hershey Pennsylvania, Harrisburg was not a place that I was allowed to visit. Now that I’m 41, I work downtown, and allow my teenage sons to come here. I feel that Mayor Reed has improved our Capital so that everyone may visit, chill and feel safe while doing it. We are lucky to have one of the most beautiful rivers flow right through our city, we are also lucky to have a Mayor take advantage of it. There is always something going on downtown for people of all ages. I feel that Mayor Reed is the main reason for the improvements in our city. I have always voted for Mayor Reed and will continue to do so. I hope he wins.

Comment: There is none better than Stephen Reed. He has guided Harrisburg to sustained growth and he is tough on crime. He is a no nonsense Mayor who gets the job done.

Comment: Mayor Reed has been Harrisburg's mayor for almost as long as I could legally vote. Under his reign, he has totally turned around the City of Harrisburg by bringing business back into the City, along with his vision to create a baseball park and family-based entertainment to City Island when many detractors said it couldn't be done, and drew the interest of excellent restauranteurs to what is now Second Street's eatery row. While I'm sure that the other nominees have excellent credentials, I can't imagine anyone who has had more of an impact on a city that was on it's way downhill and turned it into a showpiece. We're proud of Harrisburg and it's re-creator, our very own "Superman", Steve Reed!

Comment: Harrisburg's mayor has turned our city from an impoverished and seedy dump to a lively, fun, and beautiful place to live. He's passed progressive laws to protect the rights of our homosexual population, and he fights hard for the rights of our more impoverished population. He isn't a billionaire or a high-powered politician, like some of the other people nominated, he's just a normal person who has a lot of hope for and faith in our hometown, and we aren't nearly as big or as well known as all of these other cities, we're just a group of less than 50,000 people who love our mayor. Stevie should definitely win.

Comment: Stephen Reed is Mr. Harrisburg. Since becoming mayor in 1982, he has lead a revival and growth for Pennsylvania's Capital City, which was unthinkable when he assumed office. Harrisburg has won numerous awards since Mayor Reed began his term of office including Tree City USA, All American City, Forbes Magazine list of places where Employees' Dollars Goes Further, and awards for Police Accreditation, budgeting, accounting and many, many others. There is so much more to come in this city, thanks to Mayor Reed. He truly deserves to be World Mayor 2006.

Comment: Mayor Reed is the best mayor Harrisburg has had in the past 90 years (quoted from my father-in-law, a lifelong resident of Harrisburg). He is always on the scene (when there is a fire - he's even run out of city hall with a fire extinguisher when a vehicle was on fire) and involved in the everyday occurrences of the people (attending many local events - arts, music, etc.) as well as revitalizing the city over his many terms as mayor by working hard to bring and keep businesses and sports to enhance the lives of the citizens. He is truly 'married' to the city and takes care of it as a groom would for his bride. He is to be commended for his foresight and tenacity through thick and thin. He is the best thing that has happened to Harrisburg as he has been involved in more than politics even during his high school days since he moved here from another city. Mayor Reed is genuinely a caring citizen as well as a Mayor with vision.

Comment: Steve Reed is absolutely the most dynamic, committed, brilliant visionary who gets things done. We could not pay him enough to do the job he does for love of the citizens of Harrisburg. Steve Reed Mayor of the World for LIFE.

Comment: I grew up in Harrisburg, moved away 25 years ago to New York City, and decided to move back to Harrisburg because it has become such a great place. It has everything - culture, sports, restaurants, and a booming economy. Housing is very affordable and there are plenty of jobs. I plan to retire here and live happily every after. I believe all of the successes described above are due to the leadership and vision of Mayor Reed.

Comment: Mayor Reed is a perfect example of what a World Mayor should be. Harrisburg was in depression, now Harrisburg is moving in the right direction for everyone. He has done an excellent job.

Comment: He is virtually Mayor for life of Harrisburg. Mayor of the world is the next logical step,

Comment: A lifelong public servant who is currently the longest serving mayor in Pennsylvania, Stephen R. Reed has helped rejuvenate Pennsylvania’s Capital City over the past quarter century. From urban renewal to public school reform, Mayor Reed is regarded as one of the finest small city mayors in the nation, with many of his ideas, programs and initiatives copied by countless other mayors around the state and country.

Comment: Mayor Reed has changed the face and pace of Harrisburg. Because of Mayor Reed, citizens across the country now know that Harrisburg, not Philadelphia is the Capital of Pennsylvania. We may be a small city, but Mayor Reed with all of his accomplishments and future visions, has sure made a name for us on the map. He has taken a decaying city and breathed life back into it. Thanks to Mayor Reed we no longer roll up our sidewalks when the 5 P.M. communters leave the city. There is City Island, The Harrisburg Senators Baseball Team, not to forget our very own riverboat, many fine restaurants for casual and formal dining, and have I mentioned the boutiques for both men and women's clothes? The city is prospering. Thank You Mayor Reed!

More than 100,000 citizens from around the world have taken part in the 2006 World Mayor Project.

• Mayor of Antananarivo, Madagascar
• Mayor of Johannesburg, South Africa
• Mayor of Maputo, Mozambique
• Mayor of Tunis, Tunisia

• Mayor of Calgary, Canada
• Mayor of London, Canada
• Mayor of Toronto, Canada
• Mayor of Denver, USA
• Mayor of Harrisburg, USA
• Mayor of Houston, USA
• Mayor of New Orleans, USA
• Mayor of New York City, USA
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• Mayor of Belo Horizonte, Brazil
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• Mayor of Valencia, Venezuela

• Mayor of Phnom Penh, Cambodia
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• Mayor of Rishon-LeZion, Israel
• Mayor of Tokyo, Japan
• Mayor of Nablus, Palestine
• Mayor of Angeles City, Philippines
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• Mayor of Taipei, Taiwan
• Mayor of Istanbul, Turkey

• Mayor of Melbourne, Australia
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• Mayor of Sofia, Bulgaria
• Mayor of Dubrovnik, Croatia
• Mayor of Mulhouse, France
• Mayor of St Etienne, France
• Mayor of Augsburg, Germany
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• Mayor of Valencia, Spain
• Mayor of Zurich, Switzerland
• Mayor of Middlesbrough, UK