Breaking barriers: First African American and woman sworn in as Mayor of Gettysburg

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GETTYSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Several Midstate mayors were sworn in on Monday, but one is making history and that’s Gettysburg’s Rita Frealing. She’s the first African American and the first woman in the job.

Frealing says there were many emotions in reaching this historic moment but also says it’s time to get to work.

In position and set to be an ambassador for her community, Mayor of Gettysburg Rita Frealing says the community of Gettysburg molded her to who she is currently.

“I was a little nervous but hey, I think that comes with the territory and I have a lot to learn, and it begins now and I have been doing things before but work starts now,” Frealing said.

She says it’s important to actively listen to the people who live in the community. Frealing’s goals while in office include making sure folks are safe and protected and to help provide resources for those that have been affected by the COVID pandemic.

“Collaboration, you have to have people’s input and come together with a census because we all aren’t going to agree, but we all have to do what’s best for the borough and the citizens of Gettysburg,” Frealing said.

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As the first African American and woman to be in this position, leaders of the community say this is historic for Gettysburg.

“Frealing ran a very good campaign and a very positive campaign and I think many people were ready to see her as mayor and we’re happy to have her,” president of the Borough of Gettysburg council Wesley Heyser said.

“And then to elect a black major, it means a lot, it means a lot to a community that has struggled for a couple of years,” vice president of the Borough of Gettysburg council Matthew Moon said.

Yet the biggest goal is to keep moving the community forward.

“People are telling me this is a historic first and I appreciate that, but it’s only a historic first because the citizens of Gettysburg, and while it’s historic, now is when we start moving into our future and creating more history,” Frealing said.

The Penn State grad and former abc27 weather and news reporter says it was a tough campaign especially after losing a couple of loved ones.

Frealing says perseverance was key.

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