'Billy vs. Brownie' will be interesting matchup

Published: 5/19/2017 10:00 AM
Article Tools
Font size: [A] [A] [A]

What has already been an interesting year in Shamokin politics is likely to only get better between now and the Nov. 7 general election.

The mayoral race between incumbent Democrat Bill Milbrand and Republican nominee John Brown has a number of intriguing elements that are likely to pique voter interest.

First, the two have known each other for a long time through their extensive community involvement. Brown’s a former policeman and chief and an EMT, and Milbrand’s been involved with the fire department and other organizations for decades.

The two are also both already part of City Council, Milbrand, of course, as mayor, and Brown as one of four council members. Before his term as mayor began in 2014, Milbrand was on council for four years as well.

Each has described the other as a friend, but that relationship is already likely a bit strained, and could become more so, a product of politics in this case, not personalities.

• • •

Brown’s showing in the primary was impressive, not just on the Republican ticket, but in that he earned 139 write-in votes on the Democratic ballot. Milbrand had just 43 more votes (182) — with his name on the Democratic ballot. As the mayor said, though, he was unopposed in the primary and hadn’t campaigned ahead of time or at the polls, and he didn’t know there would be an organized write-in effort by Brown.

Brown likely has some critics over the fact that he gets about $4,000 a month from his police pension, a figure that’s boosted by the inclusion of accumulated leave time in the calculation — a process that state audits have repeatedly deemed illegal. The current council cast a controversial split vote over the pension issue for the recent retirement of Patrolman Bill Miner. Brown stands by the fact that for him, Miner and any other officer retiring under the contract, that higher calculation is legally safe, and deserved.

Milbrand, quite ironically, may have suffered some political damage over the cemetery desecration case. The stunning charges initially filed against him were withdrawn by the district attorney for lack of evidence, and Milbrand seemed to have overwhelming public support in his corner. But his subsequent lawsuit against two city officers involved in his arrest seems to have reversed some of that good PR, judging by the election results. And even though the mayor made it clear he wasn’t suing his own city, Shamokin has no choice but to be involved in the suit from a legal and insurance perspective.

• • •

This election backdrop is not ugly, however, it’s beautiful, in a democratic sense.

No. 1, both Brown and Milbrand are good men who have the best interests of the city at heart. They are well liked by many, evidenced by how even those who don’t know them well refer to them as “Billy” and “Brownie.”

Also, it’s encouraging to see that voters have a choice; that’s a rarity in small communities these days. Having competition forces issues to the surface and promotes change and progress, and in this case, Shamokin will be better for it.

Return to top

Subscriber Login

Video

Poll

Did you throw your mortarboard (hat) at graduation?