Williamsport city controller election shakes up candidates
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Williamsport city controller election shakes up candidates

Jun 07, 2023

Mary Wright, Williamsport city resident running for City Controller in the November General Election.

Williamsport, Pa. — The Democratic nominee for city controller, Councilwoman Liz Miele, ended her election bid to unseat the current Republican occupant, Peg Woodring, to be Williamsport’s next “fiscal watchdog.”

Miele, who won the May 16 primary election, will not be on the Nov. 7 ballot and is replaced by Mary A. Wright, a city resident. Time constraints were a factor in Miele’s decision to end her candidacy. “I decided there wasn’t much to be gained by having a contested race,” commented Miele, council’s finance committee chair.

After Miele dropped her candidacy, the party was able to appoint Wright as the replacement nominee for the November election.

"I initially entered the race because our current controller wasn’t planning to run and I was concerned that the city have someone in the office (obviously!)," Miele said. "But, since I already have several hefty commitments in my life at the moment," including a restaurant to run, her City Council position, and she's the mother of three small children, "I eventually decided that, if the current controller was comfortable continuing in her role for another term, there was no reason for me to try to take another and larger role in the city. And I wish Mary the best of luck in her run!"

The 2020 financial scandal, which remains an open state- and multi-federal agency investigation, revealed that millions of taxpayer dollars were mis-appropriated over the course of several years under previous mayors by a former city official who was acting in dual positions. This brings attention to the office of controller, whose duty is to “ensure all public expenditures are legitimate and warranted,” according to the city.

Related reading: Evidence of fraud: River Valley Transit audit uncovers 'inconsistencies'

Woodring, first elected in 2007, has claimed throughout the ongoing investigations that she was not aware of any misconduct, and to date there’s been no direct indication of malpractice by her office.


With the city treasurer, council, and mayor in the “charge to practice good government,” Wright said the controller’s office is another layer of assurance that government is being smart in how it uses our taxpayer dollars.

“I will bring back the checks-and-balances,” said Wright. About to obtain a business administration degree from Pennsylvania College of Technology, Wright said she "has broad business and managerial experience across multiple industries.” She has experience developing budgets, creating and implementing financial systems, and in contract supervision.

A “fresh perspective” on Williamsport’s financial administration, and "better transparency and effective communication” is needed, according to Wright, who is calling for the inclusion of financial reports in city council meeting records to “give taxpayers some peace of mind.”

While council votes on the budget and contracts, she said, if elected, she will question any inconsistencies, duplications, or inappropriate expenditures.

Wright indicated that the new financial software the city is using has streamlined the budget and accounting. She is committed to internal reviews that guarantee “all financial accounts, systems, and activity in which the city has any involvement follow all rules, regulations, and processes.”

A schedule to review all departments, and a master calendar for all ongoing projects, will make for efficient and effective processes and will “make city government more accountable,” she added.

“Things cost more than they ever have,” Wright said. “Using our money effectively, as well as efficiently, will reduce waste.”

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Related reading: Evidence of fraud: River Valley Transit audit uncovers 'inconsistencies'"Checks-and-balances"Success!Error!Success!Error!Sign up today!