It is with pure delight that I pass on the news that Eric Papenfuse, bookseller, historian, publisher, and community activist, has won the Democratic Primary for Mayor of Harrisburg. Harrisburg has had it pretty rough of late, declaring bankruptcy in 2011, and even recently having its fiscal fiasco featured on a Planet Money segment on Morning Edition. I had coffee with Eric a couple of months ago and I asked him why? Why would he even want to become mayor of a city in such dire straights? He told me, "Because I live and work here. Look, all I wanted to do was make things better for the block where my bookstore is, but I began to realize that to fix my block, I had to start with the city." And I completely believe him. It's the kind of guy Eric is. We recently published a book on the little known Pennsylvanian, Mira Lloyd Dock, and Eric was so thrilled that this greatly under-appreciated figure was finally getting her due that he chose the book for for his monthly public radio sponsorship, then proceeded to sell it at or below cost in his store. There are other booksellers who sell below cost, but typically it's to destroy competition and grab marketshare. Here's a bookseller doing it to be able to teach his community about a neglected yet incredibly important figure in their own history.
He is a man of great intelligence and principle. And while he's only won the primary so far, he's got an excellent chance of winning in November. Congratulations, Eric. Harrisburg is really fortunate to have you, and the city has finally shown some real wisdom in this primary election.