Meadville mayor won’t seek another term

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, February 7, 2013

After a long career of public service, Meadville Mayor W.P. “Sonny” Dickey has decided not to seek re-election.

“At the end of June I will be 28 years in city government and that’s long enough,” Dickey said in a Wednesday interview. “My wife and I got together and decided it was time to step aside and let someone else take up the leadership.”

Dickey ran unopposed to first take the mayor’s office in 2005, following 20 years as a city alderman.

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Lane Reed, a Meadville attorney and the town’s prosecutor, qualified to run for mayor last week as an independent candidate in this year’s municipal races. So far, he’s the only candidate seeking to take up the mayor’s mantle.

The retiring Dickey said he would wait to see who gets into the race before deciding whether to offer an endorsement.

Reviewing his tenure as mayor, Dickey acknowledged the city’s dwindling coffers often made managing day-to-day operations a struggle.

“Finances just aren’t there,” he said. “Small town America just doesn’t have the sales tax it used to have. It can’t just operate on property taxes.”

This will remain a major challenge facing his successor, Dickey said.

There have been successes, however, in his two terms as the town’s chief executive.

With grant funds, town leaders undertook renovations at City Hall during Dickey’s first term and, later, spearheaded a major project with grant money to put additional drainage around what’s now the C Spire office in Meadville.

A state Department of Environmental Quality loan is also enabling ongoing upgrades to the town’s sewer lift systems.

Looking further back to his years as an alderman, Dickey remains proud of a landscaping project throughout town.

“I think that added to the beauty of the town,” he said. “We get compliments from people driving through about what a beautiful town we have.”

Dickey spent several years teaching and coaching before he went to work for a private company in accounting.

He spent most of his career in that field before taking the reins as chief financial officer and administrator of the Franklin County Memorial Hospital. He held that post until April 2012.

“I’m semi-retired now,” Dickey said, laughing.

The opportunity to give back to his community motivated Dickey into municipal government, and he said he’s grateful for the opportunities he’s received.

“A big ‘thank you’ to the people of Meadville for allowing me to serve,” said Dickey. “I’ve enjoyed the years.”