W ILKES-BARRE city Republicans have three evenly matched candidates in the mayoral primary. Unfortunately, they also have three incomplete candidates, each admitting gaps in their knowledge of how the city runs.
That said, Frank Sorick edged out his two opponents when The Times Leader’s endorsement panel voted on a preferred contender for the GOP nomination to head this city of nearly 42,000 people.
All three candidates hit similar notes, praising incumbent Mayor Tom Leighton’s revitalization of downtown while criticizing what they perceive as his neglect of city “neighborhoods.” All call for scrutiny of city spending, particularly on administration, and say that if elected they will focus on boosting city services with emphasis on police and fire protection.
Want a city government “help line” to call with your questions or requests? Yearn for the days of an annual bulk curbside trash pick-up? Each candidate hopes to oblige.
Alas, when asked how they would pay for it, none had a convincing answer. Sorick gets our nod, in part, because he came closest. He believes he could slash administrative overhead by $250,000, starting with the mayor’s salary; he’d cut it from nearly $80,000 to $45,000 per year. Sorick also suggested selling advertising space at city parks.
While Sorick, 38, eagerly touts the modern mantra of cutting taxes, he conceded tough economic times likely mean any reduction would have to wait.
Sorick’s business experiences – Tino’s Pizza & Wings, Sorick Properties, Sorick Family Daycare – could prove helpful, though one worries those enterprises could distract from a full-time mayoral job.
Sorick lacks government experience, but showed an eagerness to look to other cities to learn what works. His prior involvement with Crime Watch shows a commitment to community.
All three candidates – Sorick, Karen Ceppa and Lisa Cope – sound sincere in their desires to address neighborhood issues, even if their vision blurs when trying to grasp the city’s big picture. All deserve credit for vying for the four-year post and making a competitive race in a heavily Democratic city where Republican candidates too often seem hard to come by.
But as Sorick put it when asked of his chances: “You have to vote for the person, not the party.”
The winner of the Republican nomination in May 17’s primary election will face one of these Democratic contenders in November: incumbent Mayor Tom Leighton, Nick Punko or Charlotte Raup.