Wanda Williams reacts to beating incumbent Mayor Eric Papenfuse in Harrisburg’s Democratic primary

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — City Council President Wanda Williams beat out incumbent Mayor Eric Papenfuse in the Democratic primary Tuesday, meaning she will face Republican Timothy Rowbottom in November.

She got about 29% of the vote, which was more than her contenders Papenfuse, businessman Dave Shankweiler, former councilman Otto Banks and Kevin Knox of the Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center.

The primary was a heated race and means a lot because Harrisburg is a Democratic city.

Williams could become the city’s second female mayor.

Papenfuse called to concede and congratulate Williams Tuesday night, saying he will do what he can to make a smooth transition.

Williams tells abc27 her campaign was a team effort and that with little money, they got the most votes by working hard and knocking on doors.

“I had all these individuals who helped me,” said Williams. “Neighbors and friends cousins and relatives and kids and grandkids. I am very elated and I am happy.”

Williams has been on the City Council for 16 years, and has served as president for 12 years.

She says her top priorities are affordable housing, infrastructure, homelessness and revitalizing the city. She’s already planning on building up some programs.

“Especially the one we developed with the housing authority,” said Williams. “We have a program with the youth in the summer. We couldn’t do it last year because of COVID…I want to continue that program I put $125,000 in that program to make sure at least 100 families will have jobs for the summer.”

Williams is confident she can put the city in a better financial position.

“Did you see me move the city forward when we were in a hole, and did I not move the city forward then, and now we are financially stable, so if we could move if forward back then with no money we can certainly move if forward when we are stable financially,” said Williams.

After her victory, Williams also talked about the importance of working well with the county to best use funds to help the city.

The winner of November’s race will take office in January.

Williams will remain council president through this year and says she will not recommend her replacement. She believes that should be up to the council members.

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