Two face off for township vacancy

May 05, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

Jeff Zody and Christopher Firme have a few things in common - both own six or more dogs, both are Republicans making their first run at public office and both plan to spend less than $250 on their campaigns.

The similarities end there.

Firme is liberal. Zody said he's proud to be called a conservative.

Firme, who moved to the township three years ago, lives on the east side.

Zody, a native, lives on the west side.

Firme believes the township has all the growth it can handle; Zody said he accepts the inevitable that people will be moving into the area at a faster-than-ever pace.

Both are running for the Washington Township Supervisors seat being vacated by Paul Benchoff. Benchoff, its chairman, is not seeking re-election to another six-year term.


No Democrat has filed for the May 20 primary.

Supervisors earn $50 per meeting.

Zody, 45, lives with his wife, Sheila, at 11704 Wharf Road. He is a partner in Zody's Moving and Storage Inc., a family-owned business across the road from his house. He said he is the first candidate in memory to run for supervisor from the west end of the township.

He said he is running because he feels the need to serve his community. He also is looking forward to what he calls a "tremendous learning experience."

He said he will ask himself four questions every time he's called on to decide on an issue.

"Number one, is it good for the township? If it's good for me as a citizen, then it's good for the township," he said. "I'm also going to ask if it's legal, is it moral to my own Christian ways, and is it fair and just?"

Zody said he is not anti-growth. "There's nothing we can do about it. This is a free-market system," he said. "Change is something that people have a hard time with and I'm no different.

"I'm in the moving business, and I ask people why they're moving here," he said. "Affordability is the biggest reason. We don't have jobs here. The jobs are in Maryland, Virginia and the (Washington) D.C. area, but people can't afford to live there. South Mountain used to be a buffer. Not anymore. They're finding out that this little community is a nice place to live."

Zody said at first he opposed the supervisors' plan to build a bypass around the township and take a historic 78-acre farm with it.

"I rejected the premise at first until I started to ask questions. My eyes were opened. From 80 to 90 new homes are built in the township every year. It's growing," he said.

Like Firme, Zody plans to limit his campaigning to putting up signs and knocking on voters' doors.

Firme, 41, lives at 15069 Charmian Road in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., with his wife, Beth.

He joined the group of citizens who fought the 169-home Glen Afton Acres development on Harbaugh Church Road, which the supervisors approved last year.

"We've got enough growth," Firme said. "I'm not against growth but it should go where it's appropriate. I'm for smart growth. It things continue the way they're going, we won't have many farms left in the township."

He opposes the bypass. He said he was asked to run for supervisor, but declined to say who asked him.

Firme is an agricultural inspector for the State of Maryland. He works in Washington County. He has bachelor's degrees in wildlife fisheries management and biology. He lived in Waynesboro for 10 years before he bought his house in Blue Ridge Summit.

Zody has close-cropped hair and a neat mustache. Firme sports a full beard and long hair tied in a ponytail. He said people will have to accept him as he is.

He said he is a member of the Green Republican Party.

He's savvy about his chances of election. "I think I've got a 50/50 chance of winning, but I need to carry Blue Ridge Summit, Wayne Heights and Rouzerville," he said. "If I do win, I'll be the lone eagle on the board."

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