Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Wanda Williams elected Harrisburg mayor, beats back write-in challenge

Wanda Williams speaks after declaring victory in the Harrisburg mayor’s race.

Wanda Williams will be the next mayor of Harrisburg, as the current City Council president handily beat back a write-in challenge from the incumbent mayor.

With all precincts reporting, Williams, the Democratic nominee, received 4,402 votes compared to 1,911 votes for “write-in candidate 1,” who is presumed to be two-term Mayor Eric Papenfuse. Republican candidate Timothy Rowbottom received 465 votes.

The vote tallies will need to be updated as the remainder of the mail-in ballots filter into the Dauphin County elections bureau.

At an election celebration in Uptown Harrisburg, Williams promised to be a “visible leader,” implicitly contrasting her style with that of Papenfuse.

“The residents of Harrisburg finally have an authentic leader, and that’s me,” she said, before a crowd of cheering supporters. “[A person] who’s rooted in the community and is going to take input from the community.”

Williams and Papenfuse also competed in May in a crowded, five-candidate Democratic primary, with Papenfuse losing the nomination for a third term by just 46 votes.

In mid-September, he declared that he would run as a write-in and has spent the past six weeks campaigning aggressively and trying to educate voters how to cast a write-in vote for him.

Williams, who has served on City Council for four terms, the last two as president, ran a comparatively low-key campaign. She will take office in early January.

In the meantime, she said that her first priorities are to hire staff, speak with city residents over how to best spend federal pandemic relief money and confer with City Council members.

“It feels wonderful,” Williams said, following her victory. “I want to get in there and get started.”

In the race for Harrisburg City Council, four Democrats won after running unopposed for four, four-year seats. They are council veterans Ausha Green and Shamaine Daniels and newcomers Ralph Rodriguez and Jocelyn Rawls.

For city school board, Democrats Brian Carter, Danielle Robinson, Roslyn Copeland and Jaime Johnsen all won four-year seats. Democrats Terricia Radcliff and Ellis R. Rick Roy won two-year seats on the board.

Running unopposed, incumbent Charlie DeBrunner will serve another term as city controller.

In Dauphin County, Republican Mary Bateman won a two-year seat for county controller, defeating Democrat Eric Epstein by a margin of 30,590 to 28,488 votes, respectively. For prothonotary, Republican incumbent Matt Krupp received 32,840 votes, defeating Democrat Anju Singh, who received 26,353 votes. Running unopposed, long-time county coroner Graham Hetrick will serve another term.

In the hotly contested race for an open judgeship on the Court of Common Pleas, Republican Jeff Engle bested Democrat La Tasha Williams by a tally of 32,940 to 26,580 votes, respectively.

This story has been updated to reflect the final results in Harrisburg and Dauphin County.

If you like what we do, please support our work. Become a Friend of TheBurg!

Continue Reading