Scranton mayor eyes re-election as city anticipates manufacturing expansion, possibility of casino
October 30, 2013
With new opportunities in sight for Scranton, Mayor Rodney Walker hopes to remain at the city's helm after the upcoming election.
Walker is running unopposed Tuesday for re-election as the city's mayor. He was on the city council for eight years before serving as Scranton's mayor for the past two years.
When Scranton's former mayor, Dawn Rudolph, became a Greene County supervisor, Walker, who was mayor pro tem, was voted in as mayor. He ran for the position in the following election and hopes to continue as the city's leader.
"I just felt that there were some things that need to be done yet," he said. "I hope that for the next few years, we can get some things done as far as the abatements, houses that are rundown, getting some of the houses torn down in town."
Walker is married to Tina Walker, who has been on city council since 2010 and also is running for re-election.
One of the biggest accomplishments for the city right now, he said, is the refurbishment of an old school building. It will be used as a community building that will house the city hall and provide space for the city to rent. There is also the possibility of a new fire station around that location, he said.
Potential changes in the area could mean good things for Scranton in the future, with the possibility of a casino 10 miles down the road in Jefferson and an anticipated expansion at Scranton Manufacturing, which is planned for within the next year and is expected to bring 40 new jobs within two years and 75 total long-term.
The city has been working with Scranton Manufacturing to improve drainage problems as the company plans its expansion.
The city might look into adding more housing to accommodate the additional jobs the changes would bring, Walker said.
"I can only see the casino benefiting all of the communities - not just Jefferson, but all the surrounding communities, if they set it up correctly," he said, referencing the Wild Rose Casino & Resort in Emmetsburg, Iowa, as a success story. "When we did a tour around Emmetsburg, that town and (surrounding) communities were thriving in some way from the casino around there."
Walker said that although some homeowners might find it more cost-effective to drive to work in Jefferson and Scranton from nearby cities such as Lake City, he hopes the changes will bring some new residents to the city.
"It's been tough for Scranton," he said.
Walker, 54, has lived in Scranton all of his life. He works in the research-and-development department at Scranton Manufacturing and said he enjoys the city's size.
"You know your neighbors," he said. "It's not the hustle and bustle of bigger cities."
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