Jeff Harbison – Township Commissioner

JeffHarbisonJeff is the second commissioner in our Get to Know profile section. He has a very interesting background. He narrowly escaped Guerillas in Panama, and lived in a Hawaiian volcano. These past experiences give him a unique perspective on township issues. By the way, HE LIVED IN A VOLCANO!

Below is a list of questions meant to examine exactly what our commissioners do and who they are. Here are his responses:

What are your accomplishments as a commissioner?

I have been a Commissioner for eight years and I am most proud of the Board’s solid stewardship of keeping taxes down while maintaining quality services. I also am proud of the passing of the non-discrimination ordinance.

What are your future goals as commissioner?

We must continue to remedy the stormwater problems in the Township and be careful not to allow overdevelopment. Our biggest challenge is the replacement and financing of the municipal campus. The library and the Public Works buildings in particular are woefully out of date.

What makes you a good commissioner?

One must dialog with the taxpayers and keep an open mind in determining the best practices of the Township.

Why should people vote for you the next time you’re up for reelection?

That’s four years away. If I run for re-election, I hope I will have new accomplishments on which to run.

What is your full time job?

I was the CEO and Founder of a software company that I sold and is now part of IBM. I was also owner of a middle market plastics packaging company. I am now retired and working in the non-profit world as a volunteer.

Any advice for township residents to get involved?

Come to a Commissioners workshop meeting. Apply to join an advisory board. Get on the Township’s email list.

On the personal side…

Have you lived anywhere outside of Springfield?

I have lived in Springfield since 1997. I grew up in Abington. In between, I had short stints in many places from Boston to Hawaii.

Why did you choose to live in Springfield?

I had lived in Chestnut Hill and knew a good thing when I saw it.

What do you like about Springfield?

I love the people of the community!

Do you have a favorite restaurant?

Anyplace that serves good microbrews.

Do you have a favorite event in Springfield?

There are lots of events – parades, carnivals, Community Day and a Taste of Springfield. The last two are on hiatus but will hopefully be back.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I am a long distance runner. When I am not with my family, I am off on a long run in the woods.

Describe yourself in 3 words.

Determined to improve.

What superpowers would you choose if you could choose one?

I wish I could be two places at once. Then I could go to all those meetings and not miss out on my kids.

Have you traveled internationally? If so, where is your favorite place?

I have been many places in the world as I started out as a biologist and traveled the world. The most interesting place I went was when I hiked through the Darien Jungle in Panama near the Colombian border. We were the last outsiders in the area before the government shut it down as the Shining Path Guerillas were kidnapping people. It was like the Garden of Eden in there. I love the jungle.

What’s your favorite US travel destination?

I was a park biologist in Hawaii Volcanoes and Haleakala National Park. I lived in the Haleakala crater for a month. It is a beautiful peaceful place (and there are no snakes). My cabin was eight miles from the nearest road.

Do you volunteer?

That’s what I do. Everything from watering the planters on Willow Grove Avenue up to organizing national programs to get kids to try running.

Do you support any causes or non-profit organizations?

I am the president of the American Running Association, Treasurer of the Friends of the Wissahickon, past president of the Wilma Theater among other interests. I have the time to do helpful things and I strive to have an impact.

Are there employment or volunteer opportunities within the township or your organization?

Decide what you love and create your own opportunities! If you like politics volunteer for my wife’s (Valerie Arkoosh) campaign for Congress!


We hope you enjoyed getting to know Jeff. If you, or someone you know would like to be profiled by Everyday Springfield. Send us a message via our Contact Us page.