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Middletown mayor: Candidate Q&A

Posted 11/1/17

Mayor James H. Curry III is on the ballot as a Democrat, the party under which he ran in 2013. He is now non-affiliated, but won as a write-in in May. He is running for a second term against the same …

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Middletown mayor: Candidate Q&A

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Mayor James H. Curry III is on the ballot as a Democrat, the party under which he ran in 2013. He is now non-affiliated, but won as a write-in in May. He is running for a second term against the same opponent he defeated four years ago, Republican Robert Givler, a former Middletown police officer and current part-time police officer for the borough of Royalton. He defeated Richard Hiester in the Republican primary in May.

James H. Curry III

1. Should the role of the mayor of Middletown be more than just being in charge of the police department? 

This question has been debated many times. I’m always confused by it because the answer seems so very obvious. The answer is “yes.”

It is true. Borough code lists the main role of the mayor as top oversight of the police department. The safety and security of the 8,900 residents I answer to is of top priority. That being said, only focusing on this role would be a disservice to the public. While Middletown’s system of government is often referred to as “strong council/weak mayor,” the mayor position is what you make of it.

I’ve often referred to the position of mayor as a “cheerleader.” The mayor has the responsibility to boost morale and demonstrate why Middletown is the greatest place to live in Dauphin County. He/she must tout Middletown’s assets and accomplishments and be a pillar of strength for residents to lean on during emergencies. Additionally, the mayor must be a creative thinker. He/she has the responsibility to reinvent himself/herself to ensure the community is engaged. The mayor must prioritize the needs and wants of the community at large and develop ideas, such as fundraising efforts, to accomplish the same. Finally, the mayor has the distinct ability to utilize the position to advocate for or against any initiative. The beauty of the position is that it serves as a check and balance.

Serving as Middletown’s mayor has been one of the greatest honors of my life and I thank Middletown for the opportunity to continue.

2. How would you assess the relationship between residents of the borough and the borough police department? Is there room for improvement, and how would you bring this improvement about?

When I was elected as mayor four years ago, my marching orders from the residents was to “fix the police department.” I am proud to say that goal has been accomplished. The reputation of the Middletown Police Department has changed. It has changed in the eyes of the residents. It has changed in the eyes of Dauphin County.

The importance of our brave men and women cannot be overstated. While being a police officer has never been an easy job, it is even more difficult in today’s climate. They’re often tossed about like a political football and can be unappreciated until times of trouble.

Fortunately, I have acquired Chief George Mouchette, who shares my vision for the department. As a former detective from the NYPD, George understands the absolute need to mesh the difficult job of policing with the revitalized familial atmosphere in Middletown. From bus stop oversight, to foot patrols, to the new bicycle program, to picking up a basketball in a park with our youth, our officers have demonstrated their dedication in getting to know Middletown on a personal level while “protecting and serving.”

Is there room for improvement? Yes. To answer otherwise would be ignorant. Complacency is not an option. We will continue to work collaboratively with residents and business owners to address Middletown’s greatest concerns. The key information we obtain from them, either via new groups to be formed or via the current Quality of Life groups, is invaluable. As a team, we will continue with what is working while adding new initiatives to solidify our relationship with the people.

3. What is the top thing you would like to see accomplished in Middletown by the end of 2018?

I’ve always said, “Nothing has ever been accomplished, which hasn’t first been attempted.” In the past four years, Middletown has attempted and accomplished a great deal. Think about where we were at as a team four years ago and reflect upon today. We have gone from being the brunt of jokes to the shining star of Dauphin County. Middletown’s morale and sense of togetherness are stronger than ever. We have so much to be proud of, yet so much more to accomplish. As mayor, I pledge to keep our ball rolling. Further progress requires energy, commitment, objective oversight, and a strong spirit. What is my top priority for 2018? It’s simple. I want to continue.

Robert Givler

1. Should the role of the mayor of Middletown be more than just being in charge of the police department? 

No. State law provides that Middletown Borough operates under a strong council-weak mayor form of government. Aside from the fact that this form of government has been working since before I can remember, the police department is the largest part of the borough’s budget and comes under fire nearly every day for performing their duty. The office of mayor has quite enough to do in dealing with these problems than to be dealing with the business of the Council. The mayor’s duties also include being a liaison for Penn State/Capitol Campus, dealing with borough emergencies which include snow emergencies, emergencies dealing with TMI, floods and any other emergencies that relate to some form of disaster in the borough. The office of the mayor has a large job attending to the police department and the needs of the borough citizens.

2. How would you assess the relationship between residents of the borough and the borough police department? Is there room for improvement, and how would you bring this improvement about?

The relationship between the police and the citizens is on shaky ground due in part to the very job they perform every day. I do feel that the citizens have trust in their police that they can do their job. There is always room for improvement in any job performance. I feel that being able to free an officer to perform citizen-police type programs such as Neighborhood Watch would certainly improve relationships. Understanding is a key to success. If you understand why your doctor is operating on you and the exact procedure he is going to perform, it gives you confidence in your doctor. The same in police work. If you understand why and how it gives you a little more confidence in your police.

3. What is the top thing you would like to see accomplished in Middletown by the end of 2018?

I would like to start a Civilian Service Officer (CSO) program within the police department. This type of program would benefit the police and the citizens and would build on the relationship with students at Capitol Campus. The program would assist the police with traffic problems either at emergencies or special events. The citizens would benefit by having someone on station to get walk-in citizens the help they need and there would be someone on station to answer phone calls that now go unanswered after hours. The relationship with Capitol Campus students would improve, especially the ones in the criminology field, in that they could apply for the job and work with the police and get insight into law enforcement jobs that would be available to them.


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