10 Most Powerful Political People in Harrisburg, PA

by on December 15th, 2010
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COMMENTARY | Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, is the capital of Pennsylvania and home to some of the most important people in the state. Out of all the people in the city, I think these are the most important.

[Related: Find more news about Harrisburg.]

Tom Corbett

Tom Corbett is the most powerful person in Harrisburg. He is the governor of the state, and he just recently had the power to choose the individual who would be overseeing the city’s financial situation. He has a lot of influence over what happens in the budget, which would include how much money goes to the city.

David Unkovic

David Unkovic is the newly appointed receiver to the city of Harrisburg. He will be in charge of Harrisburg’s finances. Unkovic was chosen after Harrisburg joined the Act 47 program to help the city get out of massive debt. The city then failed to timely authorize a plan to pay its debts, and the city reverted to state control. Unkovic will now have authority over the finances of the capital city. This is a lot of power.

James Ellison

James Ellison is one of the top attorneys at one of Harrisburg’s top law firms. The Rhoads & Sinon partner has also had his hand in a number of city dealings. Though he has since resigned from his position on the Harrisburg Authority, he retains positions in the Harrisburg School District. His ties to the community will not just disappear overnight.

Dominic Pileggi

Dominic Pileggi is the majority leader for the Pennsylvania Senate. Though he does not represent the city, he does have a lot of influence when it comes to legislation that may impact any city, including Harrisburg.

Dan Miller

Dan Miller is the controller for the city of Harrisburg. He controls the money for the city. Though typically the position is more or less ministerial, he has stood up for the city’s finances more than once in the current administration. He is focused on protecting the city from financial misuse, and he is in a position to see exactly where all the pennies are spent.

Jeffrey Piccola

Jeffrey Piccola is the state senator who represents the city. He has enough seniority to land some coveted positions, as well. Among other things, he is the chairman for the education committee. Piccola always keeps his district in mind, though he does sometimes have critical words for some of its actions.

[Related: Powerful Pennsylvania lawmaker found guilty of corruption.]

Ron Buxton

As the state representative for Harrisburg, Ron Buxton has a lot of influence on what happens in the city. Unfortunately, he has faced criticism over his perceived lack of opposition to the appointment of a city receiver to control the city’s finances. Despite this, Buxton is the city’s voice in the state legislature, and he has a lot of power over what happens to the city. He will not be seeking re-election after this term.

Linda Thompson

Linda Thompson is currently mayor of Harrisburg. Inherently, being the mayor of the capital city is a powerful position. Mayor Thompson has implemented some beneficial programs, but she will likely best be known for something else. It was under her watch that the state took over the city’s finances.

Pierre Ritter

Pierre Ritter is the head of the Harrisburg police force. In itself, this is an important position. However, he has taken it one step further . He is using his power as the police chief to go after individuals in the department who are telling the media about the plan for managing stray dogs.

Gloria Martin-Roberts

Gloria Martin-Roberts is the current president of the city council. Though the position wields a lot of power, the city council and the mayor have reached many stalemates recently. Martin-Roberts is hoping to become a state house member by running for Buxton’s former seat.

As someone who works on a daily basis with the political aspects of Pennsylvania’s state government, Kristin Watt is familiar with the power structure of Harrisburg.


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