Harrisburg City Council member Brad Koplinski, a major figure in the capital city's debt crisis, said he will run for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania.

Koplinski, a Democrat and a former Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer, said municipalities, especially distressed cities, need a strong voice at the state capitol.

The lieutenant governor traditionally chairs the Pennsylvania Local Government Advisory Committee.

"We're trying to prevent what happened in Harrisburg from happening elsewhere," Koplinski said in an interview. "We're the poster children for what not to do and what can go wrong."

Koplinski, a councilman for five years, led a bloc of four City Council members that three times voted against a state-sponsored workout program for distressed communities, known commonly as Act 47.

He has also requested that the Internal Revenue Service and the SEC investigate the bond-financing cost overruns that has saddled Harrisburg with roughly $340 million in debt that it cannot pay.

Harrisburg is now under state receivership.

Koplinski said he would work to overhaul the Act 47 program, which he once called a "roach motel" because of the length of stay for some communities. Scranton, for instance, has been in Act 47 since 1992.

"You look at places like Scranton, Altoona and Farrell, and you see very similar solutions proposed that do not meet the various needs of these communities," he said. "And it usually involves the same consultants."

"Act 47 keeps cities on life support, and we can't make our own decisions," added Koplinski, who favors talking extensively with managers and elected officials in the affected communities.

Koplinski was also statewide political director for Sen. Arlen Specter's 2010 U.S. Senate effort, central Pennsylvania political director for Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign and controller for the Obama-Biden Pennsylvania campaign that year.

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