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Outgoing mayor reflects on last 8 years in office

By Ryan Hughes, Reporter, RHughes@wfmz.com
Published On: Dec 29 2011 03:29:40 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 30 2011 05:06:30 AM CST

The stage is being set for the inauguration of Reading Mayor-elect Vaughn Spencer.

READING, Pa. -

Reading Mayor Tom McMahon's time in office is quickly coming to an end. 

He is looking back over his past two terms and describing his job as an eight-year challenge.

"It's been an absolute learning experience, and I had a chance to work with some wonderful people," said McMahon.

The retired engineer first ran for mayor, saying the city needed a new direction. During his tenure in City Hall, McMahon said he worked hard to make the city a better place than it was in 2003.

"We wanted people to say this is a place we would like to move to, this is a place we'd like to work in or raise a family," said McMahon.   

The mayor said he is proud to have a hand in the building of the GoggleWorks and IMAX theater and renovating the Pagoda.

Then, there's crime. The mayor said crime is dropping and he credits that to re-hiring police Chief Bill Heim.

But there were many bumps along the way. McMahon said his biggest challenge was housing.

"I think there was an assumption we we're just going to go in and take properties, 3,000 or 4,000  properties, and transform them overnight into really good properties," said McMahon.

Then, there is poverty. Under his reign, Reading garnered the title of poorest city in the country. And one of McMahon's toughest decisions, he said, was applying for Act 47 to save the city from bankruptcy.

"I'm glad I did.  Act 47 was the right thing for us to do," he said.

Eight years after taking office, McMahon is not looking back, but instead to the future.

He said he is taking a few months off, spending time in Central America.  He also plans to make the transition process for Mayor-elect Vaughn Spencer as smooth as possible.

Spencer will be sworn in at noon on Mon., Jan. 2, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Reading.