Mayor Eric Papenfuse


The Honorable Eric Papenfuse took the oath of office as the Mayor of the City of Harrisburg on Jan. 6, 2014 in a simple ceremony in the MLK Government Center, leading a movement to revitalize the city’s economy and restore trust in government.

A successful businessman, Papenfuse was elected on a platform of uniting the residents of Harrisburg to work toward the common goal of building a better community through attracting business and investment, improving education and restoring pride and prosperity to the state capital. With the motto “Together, We Can,” Papenfuse inspired thousands of people to place their confidence in him to lead Harrisburg out of a period of economic and political malaise.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1971 to an elementary-school reading teacher and a state-government archivist, Papenfuse attended Yale University for college and graduate school. He studied American history and government and was the only member of his undergraduate class to earn both Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in four years, summa cum laude. A published author and prize-winning scholar, his teaching and research explore the moral dilemmas of slavery and the fractious national political environment in the years after the American Revolution.

A former public school teacher, Papenfuse taught Latin at Central Dauphin East and Linglestown Junior High Schools, where he served as chair of the Foreign Language department.

Papenfuse lives in Harrisburg with his wife Cathy and their three children He settled in Harrisburg in 1999 after his wife accepted a post as Assistant Professor of History at Messiah College. It was not long after their move to Harrisburg that the couple went into the book business, a decision that has enriched the entire region and led to his eventual election as the city’s mayor.



    The Papenfuse Administration is committed to working for a revitalization of Harrisburg, restoring trust and competence in city government as well as pride and prosperity to our capital city.

    The administration was elected on a platform of opposing a rush to bankruptcy, contending it would spell both economic and psychological disaster for the city and its residents. Within the first 100 days of the Papenfuse Administration, the city emerged from State Receivership and a new atmosphere of hope spread throughout the capital.

    Mayor Papenfuse is committed to fiscal responsibility and government accountability as he leads the city out of financial crisis. He has appointment competent and dedicated heads of city government departments and has instituted strong checks and balances to maintain close tabs on spending.

    To make Harrisburg strong once again, Mayor Papenfuse has identified three strategic areas to focus attention during his administration.

  • Blight & Beautification

    For four decades, Harrisburg has been overrun with slumlords, uncaring property owners and abandoned buildings.

    Papenfuse is not the first mayor to identify blight as a major problem in Harrisburg, but his response has been both active and creative. He moved codes enforcement into public safety, began a Housing Court and created a land bank aimed at putting blighted properties back into productive use.

  • Crime & Safety

    Mayor Papenfuse believes public safety is one of the most important issues impacting quality of life in Harrisburg and directly affects the city’s ability to stimulate an economic recovery. He has worked to strengthen the leadership of the Harrisburg Police force, appointing Chief Thomas Carter to lead the Police Department and moving quickly to recruit new police officers and promote experienced officers to leadership positions.

    Mayor Papenfuse also created a new position of Community Policing Coordinator and appointed David Botero to create a vital link between city residents and the Police Department. Botero works directly with neighbor crime watch groups, interacts with youth in schools and engages the community in improving public safety at the neighborhood level.

    In the first few months of the Papenfuse Administration, officers began walking patrols in neighborhoods and interacting with city residents, especially with youth in schools and in informal settings to facilitate friendly relationships and mutual trust. Many residents noted the increased positive interactions with police in their communities, creating a strong sense of security.

    Harrisburg Police began collaborating with law enforcement agencies in neighboring townships, as well as with county and state police departments to develop strong working relationships police agencies throughout the region.

    Mayor Papenfuse oversaw recruitment of 13 new firefighters in the first 100 days of his administration. The Mayor also worked with the Fire Department to solidify a new contract with significant concessions from the union in a sign of firefighters’ commitment to Harrisburg’s economic recovery.

  • Education & Youth

    Harrisburg schools are in crisis and much more needs to be done to ensure youth in our city receive a quality education.

    The Papenfuse Administration sees education as another vital component of Harrisburg’s economic recovery. The Mayor is determined to advocate for parents and to insist on the best possible schools for Harrisburg youth.

    To assist with maintaining a strong focus on education and youth, the Mayor created a Special Assistant to Education, Youth and Civic Engagement and named respected educator Karl Singleton to the position. The Special Assistant works directly with the Mayor to promote education, facilitate after-school enrichment programs and support mentoring initiatives in the community.

    While the Mayor has no official role in the public school system, Mayor Papenfuse realizes he can help direct resources to improve schools and programs for youth, as well as encourage parents and teachers to push for the highest quality schools for Harrisburg’s next generation of leaders.

Additional Information

Have A Question?

Send an email:
Cathy Hall
Special Assistant to the Mayor

Give us a call:

Stop by and visit:
City of Harrisburg
10 N. 2nd St.
Harrisburg, PA 17101

Scheduling & Requests

If you would like to request a meeting with or schedule an event with Mayor Eric Papenfuse please complete the on-line form we have provided for your convenience. Please make requests two to four weeks from the date of the event or meeting.

Proclamation Request

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Mayor perform wedding ceremonies?

Yes. Please fill out the online scheduling request form to request the Mayor to officiate your wedding.

How can I get in touch with the Mayor?

Please contact us by calling 311 or emailing your information to

How can I get an official proclamation from the Mayor?

Please fill out the online proclamation request form.