Councilwoman knows how to push

April 02, 2003|by ANDREA ROWLAND

SMITHSBURG - Heading a group that works to better the lives of retirees has taught Shirley Aurand an important lesson: Sometimes you have to push to make positive changes.

"I've learned that if you don't push for things that will better seniors' lifestyles, you won't get them," said Aurand, 68.

Now, she will use her experience as president of the local chapter of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees to better serve the people of Smithsburg as the town's newest council member, she said.


The Smithsburg Town Council in January voted to appoint Aurand to complete the remainder of former Councilman Jake Johnson's term in office.

Johnson resigned in December, citing "increasing family commitments and responsibilities" as the reason for his resignation. His four-year term was slated to end in May 2004.

Despite a busy schedule, Aurand agreed to fulfill Johnson's term with encouragement from Smithsburg Mayor Mildred "Mickey" Myers, she said.

"I decided I'd give it a shot," said Aurand, who has lived in the town since 1973. "I just want to do the best job I can possibly do for the town of Smithsburg."

Although her post as a town official is new, Aurand has been long involved in Smithsburg. She was active in local Parent Teacher Associations and Little League teams when her now-adult children were growing up in the town, she said.

Aurand was also a regular attendee at monthly meetings of the Mayor and Town Council - a civic duty she wishes more Smithsburg residents would embrace, she said.

"My only disappointment is that there isn't more support from residents," Aurand said. "I think (town politics) are more interesting and involved than most people think."

Aurand's career also was based in Smithsburg, where she served as a window distribution clerk at the post office for 23 years. She was officer-in-charge in Smithsburg, Sharpsburg and Detour, Md., when the postmasters at those offices were out, she said.

Aurand became a NARFE member in 1987. The national organization was formed in 1921 by 14 federal workers, and now boasts more than 400,000 members nationwide, Aurand said.

According to the NARFE Web site, the organization's mission is threefold:

  • To support legislation beneficial to current and potential federal annuitants and to oppose legislation contrary to their interests.

  • To promote the general welfare of current and potential federal annuitants by advising them with respect to their rights under retirement laws and regulations.

  • To cooperate with other organizations and associations in furtherance of these general objectives.

As president of the Hagerstown-based NARFE chapter, Aurand arranges speakers for monthly membership meetings, keeps members up to date on legislative issues, and travels regularly to Annapolis and occasionally to Washington, D.C., to lobby for bills that would benefit senior citizens and federal workers, she said.

Aurand also serves on the state legislative committee for the Maryland Federation of Chapters for NARFE, she said.

Her group is now trying to convince state lawmakers to form a task force to study the issue of senior citizens moving from Maryland to other states - in part, Aurand says, because seniors must pay state taxes on their federal pensions in Maryland.

"We feel we lose a lot of senior retirees to Pennsylvania and other states that don't tax federal pensions," she said.

The bill passed in the Maryland Senate, and NARFE members are now lobbying the House of Delegates, Aurand said. Two other state bills that would ease financial burdens on retirees were defeated in Annapolis, she said.

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