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Council swears in Ickes, Carper

It was a family-oriented City Council meeting Wednesday, as two newcomers elected in November were sworn in by the city solicitor, while standing next to their wives — as other relatives watched from the audience.

Republicans Joe Carper and Jesse Ickes thanked those relatives, the voters and council members who’ve helped familiarize them with the issues since the election, and afterward explained where they hope to focus as they begin their work on council.

Ickes, a financial adviser, plans to make financial management his top priority, in hopes of helping council create conditions to ensure against the city backsliding into the fiscal morass that led to its entry into the state’s Act 47 distressed municipalities program in 2012, a program it exited five years later in much better shape.

He also hopes to help create a climate that will encourage businesses to relocate and remain in Altoona, so the city can attract and retain young people.

Carper wants to ensure that Altoona’s government continues to improve its helpfulness to businesses willing to locate or expand here.

He’s heard that Altoona is “not exactly the friendliest place” for business development, but that things are getting better, and he wants to help “continue that trajectory,” he said.

That reflects his philosophy that it behooves government to “stay out of the way,” he said.

“Businesses generally know what’s best for them,” he added.

Carper also wants to make it easier for homeowners to make repairs in their houses, he said.

He favors regulatory changes that would allow them to do at least some work that now requires them to hire licensed electricians or plumbers, provided rules are in place for inspections to guarantee the work is done safely.

He’d also like to make licensing regulations for tradesmen less restrictive, he said.

“Open the market for folks to do business in the city,” he said.

But he needs to speak to the city’s experts on these trade-related matters, including Rebecca Brown, director of the Department of Codes and Inspections, to ensure his proposals are sound, he said.

Solicitor Dan Stants also swore in Mayor Matt Pacifico, who was re-elected in November.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

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