Sunbury hospital employees plea: Let us help plan facility's future

Sunbury Mayor Kurt Karlovich talks during a town hall last month centered around the topic of the closing of the Sunbury Community Hospital. Next to Karlovich are Jody Ocker, left, Sunbury administrator, Joel Wiest, city solicitor, and Jamie Mercaldo, administrator for the Sunbury CareerLink office.

SUNBURY —  Mayor Kurt Karlovich announced Monday night that he will not seek reelection in 2021.

Karlovich made the announcement at the end of Monday's Sunbury City Council meeting.

"After giving serious thought, having discussions with my partner and review of current laws, makes today a very heavy day on my heart," Karlovich told council.

"I am saddened to announce that I will not be seeking reelection as mayor due to regulations of the Civil Service Act. If I were to seek reelection I would be terminated or forced to resign from my current employment position.

Karlovich is employed in a civil service position for the state. According to the law, he is allowed to finish his term as mayor.

"I am grateful to the community members for electing me their mayor, supporting me along the way and allowing me to serve this great community for four years and to the exceptional public servants who have served and continue to serve on my staff."

Karlovich said he will serve out his term for the next 18-months.

"I will continue to fight for the rights of all and for the prosperity of our great city for all who live in or visit," he said. "We have accomplished so much and there is still so much more to do."

Councilman Jim Eister said he was stunned to learn of Karlovich's decision.

"I had no idea this was coming," he said. "He has served the city residents well and I honestly wish him the best of luck in the future."

Karlovich said he made the announcement early because he wants people to get involved to run for the position.

"I encourage those who wish to serve this great city to apprise us of your vision for our area and the priorities you will dedicate your attention to," he said. "Strive to overcome intolerance, and recognize that only through mutual respect, rational discourse, and cooperation can we continue to build a stronger and lasting community while protecting the constitutional rights of all without discrimination."

In November 2017, Karlovich, a Democrat, defeated Republican Councilwoman Beth Kremer and independent Joseph Bartello to become the new mayor of Sunbury at the age of 31.

Karlovich got off to a rocky start when he began to battle with fellow council members over city issues, including the police department building.

Karlovich and council members eventually agreed and began to work together, including purchasing the new police department building.

Karlovich used a strong ground campaign and social media to his benefit, he said.

"Anyone that wants to run for this job can come to talk with me and I will give the advice that worked for me," he said.

Police Chief Brad Hare said Karlovich has been a good boss and leader for the department.

"It's not easy being the mayor, and I commend him for a lot of the positive changes we made in the police department and I wish him well," Hare said. "We still have a lot of work to do in the year and a half he has left."

Karlovich began his political career with a quest to make the wetland area in the city a destination for residents and visitors of Sunbury.

On Monday night,council approved $57,773 in state grant money to be devoted to phase one of the projects which would turn the area into a park.

The wetland area is located between Line and Race streets and North 6th and North 8th streets.

The money will be used to clean up the area, add benches, a walking trail with educational signage and a parking area off of Race Street.

Phase one would begin construction in 2021, Karlovich said.

"This will be a great benefit for the entire community," Karlovich said. "There has been a lot of work and a lot of people working on this project and I am very happy to see it move forward."

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