Meadville's mayor faces challenge from deputy mayor in re-election bid
H. LeRoy Stearns was appointed as mayor of the City of Meadville in 2016. But Meadville's current Deputy Mayor, Sean Donahue, feels Stearns missed one of the biggest opportunities to save the city nearly $100,000, and is running against him in Tuesday's Democratic primary election.
MEADVILLE, Pa. - H. LeRoy Stearns was appointed as mayor of the City of Meadville in 2016. He's spent the last 16 months pushing for job growth and fighting blight in the city, notably two projects funded through loans and grants with the Meadville Redevelopment Authority.
"We've started an awful lot of projects that I'd like to see come to completion," said Stearns, 61, who has served on Meadville City Council for 19 years, 12 as deputy mayor.
But Meadville's current Deputy Mayor, Sean Donahue, feels Stearns missed one of the biggest opportunities to save the city nearly $100,000: outsourcing its police dispatch service to Crawford County.
"It's a mill of taxes that we're spending on it per year, and we had recommendations to change it a year ago and we never did it," said Donahue, 49, who has served as deputy mayor since 2016.
Now Donahue is challenging Stearns in Tuesday's Democratic primary election. The two have served together on Meadville City Council since Donahue was elected in 2013.
"I think that people deserve a choice for offices, especially like the mayor," said Donahue.
"I'm looking for the future of the City of Meadville," said Stearns.
The two were also on opposite sides during another pivotal vote: this time, on third party billing for the Meadville Fire Department. Outsourcing that could've saved the city between $20,000-40,000.
Another challenge facing the next mayor: finding ways to increase Meadville's population, which has been on a steady decline since the 1990s.
"It's really hard for the city, for the people that are left, to have to pay for everything," said Donahue, who notes between 40 and 50 percent of the city's tax base is tax-exempt.
The city is once again facing a nearly quarter-million dollar budget deficit in 2017.
But Stearns believes his vision will help reduce that number.
"We're not just talking," said Stearns. "Action is being taken."
Donahue is also running for a second, four-year term on council in Tuesday's primary. He will be allowed to pick which position he wants if he wins both, according to officials from Crawford County Voter Services.
Republican John Battaglia is also running for Mayor of Meadville. He's unopposed in tomorrow's primary election.