SCRANTON — In less than a week, the city of Scranton will close a 12-year chapter: Mayor Chris Doherty’s administration.
His three terms as mayor came with many changes for the Electric City, some for the better and some for the worse.
His office in city hall has remained pretty plain and unchanged over the 12 years he came to work here. There are no framed accomplishments on the wall. The ones Mayor Chris Doherty said he’s most proud of speak for themselves and stand outside these walls.
“The city looks dramatically different today than when I took over. So, that`s a tremendous satisfaction,” Doherty said.
For example, go back to 2007, when Doherty and other city officials dedicated the David Wenzel Treehouse at Nay Aug Park. It was part of several projects to revitalize the park system in the city.
Since Doherty took over in 2002, 10 buildings in downtown Scranton have been renovated into apartments or retail space. Doherty said that brought a certain energy back to that part of the city.
The energy was seen earlier in 2013 when the stars of the fictional Scranton-based show “The Office” visited back in June.
“Having people live in a tight space, they bounce off each other, they get ideas. They take pride in where they live and they create an energy. It`s like combustion engineering,” Doherty said of citizens living in the downtown.
It’s those people, Doherty said, who will help Scranton weather its inevitable upcoming storms.
For example, how it will pay nearly $20 million in back pay to the police and fire unions. A fight Doherty now admits was a failure. His last term as mayor could be characterized by fights, namely passive-aggressive ones, with members of city council.
But, he doesn’t see that as a set back.
“I like our form of government, it`s frustrating sometimes, but it`s the right government to have. You should be frustrated. You should be challenged, you should be forced to look at things you didn’t look at the first time,” he said.
Doherty said the next four years will indeed be a challenge, but a property tax hike he imposed in 2013 has positioned the city well financially.
Doherty talked about his tenure as a series of risks. Some that panned out, others that didn’t. Doherty received national attention when he reduced employees’ pay to minimum wage in 2012.
But, future leaders can learn from the risks he took. In fact, Doherty said, that’s what we need more of. People willing to see Scranton as place to come and take a risk.
“We need people who want to take chances, who see an opportunity to make money. And you see that, but we need more of it, a lot more of it. And if we get that, I think we`ll be ok,” Doherty said.
The future of Scranton is uncertain, but so is Doherty’s legacy. Only time will tell.
Doherty’s last day in office will be January 6th, that’s when Mayor-elect Bill Courtright will be sworn in.