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Mayor reflects on White House visits, chats with president

Mayor reflects on White House visits, chats with president

READING, Pa. - Reading Mayor Tom McMahon has been busy traveling back and forth between Reading and Washington D.C. 

It's a trip he's made five times during the Obama administration.

On his most recent trip on Thursday, Mayor Tom McMahon and Easton Mayor Sal Panto joined dozens of mayors in speaking with the president at the White House.

"Pretty much he said, 'Mayors, I want you to help me. Go back and tell the story. Go back and tell the story to folks that they need to contact their federal elected officials and say let's move forward on something,'" said McMahon. 

The mayor said the gridlock in Washington has compelled the president to reach out to the country's mayors. It's a relationship that has been ongoing.

"I've been there five times," said McMahon. "I've talked to the president myself about half a dozen times. Wonderful guy, easy to talk to, and you can just see over a period of time could get worn down because of the inaction on the part of everyone else. But he's doing the absolute best he can."

The White House and Reading City Hall are two very different posts, but the mayor said he can see parallels between himself and the president when it comes to challenges on the job.

"Sometimes, the mayor's job is just constantly getting arraigned and harassed. That's what happens that's all part of the deal.  I understand it," said McMahon. "One thing I've learned over a period of time is that you can't take it too seriously because it really is a game. You work hard, you do everything you can for the people who elected you and that's the primary goal."

McMahon said he doesn't know if he is the mayor of Reading to have traveled the most to the White House, but he thinks it has helped federal and local communication.

"Sometimes, the people in Washington or in Harrisburg for that matter, they're so far removed the issues day to day," said McMahon. "The mayors are on the street. The mayors are the ones people complain to about potholes, street lights out."

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