Harrisburg City Council President Wanda Williams running for Mayor

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Harrisburg City Council President Wanda Williams became the fourth official candidate for the Democratic nomination in the city’s mayoral race.

Speaking Thursday at the new memorial commemorating the city’s Old Eighth Ward, on the south lawn of the state capitol, Williams, the only woman in the race, said the field is missing “the voice of a female” and sought to distinguish herself in a field of candidates calling for change.

“I’ve always run on a platform that we do need change, and everything I’ve stated that we needed to change, we changed,” Williams said. She named infrastructure and affordable housing as two of her top priorities and said revitalization needs to spread to more of the city’s neighborhoods.

Williams has served on the city council for 16 years, 12 as president, and previously was a school board member. She described herself as a “lifetime Democrat,” a reference to the fact that two of the other Democratic candidates, Dave Shankweiler and Otto Banks, previously were Republicans.

Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans six to one in Harrisburg, so the winner of a Democratic primary often wins office. Lewis Butts, Jr., is the other announced candidate. Mayor Eric Papenfuse has not announced his re-election bid but is widely expected to run.

In a statement released by his campaign earlier Thursday, Shankweiler said: “Today’s announcement that Council President Wanda Williams has entered the race for mayor is a sign that so many leaders have urgent concerns about the direction and lack of vision for this city. I called Wanda this morning to wish her well and reiterated my pledge to run a clean, issue-focused campaign.”

The last day to register to vote in the May 18 primary election is May 3. The general election will take place Nov. 2.

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