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Mayor-elect ready to move Connellsville forward

| Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
The youngest of four boys, Gregory Lincoln (left) is the first son to follow in his father J. William Lincoln’s footsteps as he begins his political career. Gregory Lincoln was elected mayor of Connellsville. He begins his term this year.
Marilyn Forbes | for the Daily Courier
The youngest of four boys, Gregory Lincoln (left) is the first son to follow in his father J. William Lincoln’s footsteps as he begins his political career. Gregory Lincoln was elected mayor of Connellsville. He begins his term this year.

Beginning on Monday, the city of Connellsville will have a new man at its helm.

Gregory Lincoln, 40, will be sworn in as its mayor, beginning a new era for the town.

Lincoln, a Democrat, is a chip off the family block. His father, J. William Lincoln, served Fayette County and Pennsylvania for many years as a state representative for the 52nd District from 1973 through 1978, then as a member of the state Senate, 32nd District, from 1979 through 1994.

Ironically, after his many years as a politician, J. William Lincoln had surprising advice for his son when Gregory Lincoln announced his mayoral candidacy.

“I told him not to do it, and I tried to talk him out of it,” J. William Lincoln said. “I told him you have wonderful children and a beautiful wife and you both have good jobs. If you do this, your life will not be the same from here on out.”

But Gregory Lincoln did run and did win the election. And J. William Lincoln said that although he did not necessarily want his son to enter into politics, he never questioned his ability to win the confidence of the people of Connellsville.

“I never doubted for one minute that he would win,” J. William Lincoln said.

His son, however, was surprised of the outcome.

“I really never thought that I would beat Charlie Matthews on the Democratic ticket,“ Gregory Lincoln said of the incumbent. “I thought I would win as a write-in on the Republican ticket and that we would then faceoff at the election in November.”

Lincoln, a University of South Carolina graduate with a degree in political science, works as a laborer for the North Fayette County Municipal Authority. He decided to enter the political arena when we became involved with the “Believe in Connellsville” group.

“We saw where the city was and where we wanted to go,” Lincoln said of the group, adding he then volunteered to seek the mayoral post. “The volunteers of the group worked their butts off campaigning and going door to door and getting the word out.”

Lincoln said one of his main goals as mayor will be to try to generate interest in getting more people involved in the betterment of the city and of their communities.

“I would like to see people get involved,” Gregory Lincoln said. “They can no longer depend on five city council members to do all the work. There are a lot of great volunteer groups that need a lot of help.”

Gregory Lincoln said the volunteer opportunities are vast and city residents of all ages can get out and get involved.

“Even if it's just something like adopting their block or helping out an elderly neighbor, it's something that is important,” he said, adding that he, too, plans to stay involved in volunteering. “I plan to lead by example. People in Connellsville are going to get tired of seeing me.”

Lincoln said he looks forward to the monthly city council meetings and hopes more people attend or watch the coverage that is televised on Armstrong.

“A lot of people watch those council meetings and I hope that more start,” Gregory Lincoln said. “I also want people to feel free to come to the meetings — come and ask questions or tell us what is on their minds. I want everyone here in Connellsville to know what is going on at all times.”

Lincoln will be sworn in at the city's reorganization meeting on Jan. 6 and will be taking a few items with him to demonstrate the pride he has in his father.

“I have my father's chair that he sat in on the Senate floor and I hope to use that for meetings,” Lincoln said. “I will also be using one of my father's Bibles when I am sworn in.”

Looking ahead, Lincoln said he feels confident council will be able to work together with a shared vision for the betterment of the city and the people who dwell there.

“We may not see eye to eye all the time and we might not agree on things all the time, but that is not necessarily a bad thing, because we all share one common opinion and that is that we all want the city to succeed,” Lincoln said. “I refuse to let the city go down and I think that a lot of people see light at the end of the tunnel. I am looking forward to 2014. I'm nervous and I'm excited and I'm ready to see what 2014 will bring.”

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer.

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