After almost a decade of serving the area, Harold P. Kelly is nearing the final stretch of his time as Clarks Summit Borough’s mayor. Sworn into office on January 2, 2006, Kelly’s term as mayor will end Monday, Jan. 6, when Mayor-elect Patty Lawler will be sworn into office.
“I think eight years is enough. I think Patty (Lawler) will do a great job, and I think it’s time,” said Kelly of his exiting office.
An Archbald native, and graduate of Keystone College and Mansfield University, Kelly moved to the Clarks Summit area in 1993. He said he had an interest in politics and helped out with a number of campaigns over the years.
He decided to throw his hat in the ring for the mayor’s seat at the suggestion of Clarks Summit Borough Council President Gerrie Carey.
“Harry had a very likeable way about him, and the thing I respected most about him is he was so trustworthy,” said Carey of why she encouraged Kelly to run.
Despite Carey’s optimism, Kelly said he was still surprised when he actually won the election.
“Prior to my winning, for the most part, Clarks Summit was a Republican stronghold. I’m the only Democratic mayor ever elected,” said Kelly.
Both Carey and Kelly feel that a door-knocking campaign to get Kelly’s name out there helped put him into office.
“We went door to door and knocked on every door in Clarks Summit. Some houses, we knocked on the front and then, when we went around the corner, would knock on the back door (by accident) and they would say, ‘You were here already,’” Carey laughed.
“The thing that fascinated me about Harry was he knew something about (the people) at every home we went to. That intrigued me and made me think he’d be a good mayor.”
Carey went on to say that after he was elected, he proved her correct.
“Harry did a great job. He touched a lot of hearts, and he was a great mayor, and we had a great mayor/council relationship, which is important,” said Carey.
“I enjoyed working with the council, they’re all very nice people. I enjoyed working with the secretarial staff (at the borough office). I’m very pleased with the police department and the DPW,” said Kelly.
“People should be very proud of the DPW. They keep the roads very clean. They do a great job.”
During his time in office, he offered his opinion on a number of issues to help improve the town, and when asked what he was most proud of during his time in office, he replied that it was his involvement with creating weight limitations on South State Street. Something that both he and Carey feel has made it safer for pedestrians.
And while his time as mayor is coming to end, Kelly hasn’t ruled out the idea of running for office again, sometime in future.
“Never say never,” said Kelly. “Right now, off the top of my head, I don’t have any ideas. I think, right now, I’m just going to take a break and give somebody else a chance to be in charge.”
Even if he never returns to office, Kelly said he is thankful for the time he served.
“If I had not run for mayor I probably wouldn’t have gotten to know as many people in Clarks Summit as I know now. It was good in that sense,” said Kelly. “I made a lot of friendships.”
“It was a nice experience. The capacity of mayor in the borough is you’re the representative or face of the community. It was enjoyable to be a part of that and to represent the town.”