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Two seek GOP nod for Chambersburg mayor

April 20, 2005|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The race for the Republican nomination for Chambersburg mayor in the May 17 primary will pit against one another two longtime veterans of the borough government - incumbent Mayor Tom Newcomer and Ward 4 Councilman John A. Redding.

Newcomer, 60, of 129 Highfield Lane South, was elected mayor in 2001. He previously served as a Ward 2 councilman from 1991-2001, and prior to that was a Ward 3 councilman from 1973-76.

Redding, 74, of 204 Glen St., has served as a Ward 4 councilman for 12 years and has been chairman of the council's Finance Committee for four years.

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The winner of the primary will likely compete against Jason Bitner, 28, of 580 E. King St., the lone Democrat running for that party's nomination to run in the Tuesday, Nov. 8, general election. The office of mayor pays $5,625 this year, according to borough records.

Redding retired after 30 years with the federal government, his last position being director of personnel, training and force development for Depot System Command. He said he was also a partner in a management consulting firm.

A retired financial analyst, Newcomer worked for Allegheny Energy in Hagerstown for 35 years.

"My personnel experience and also my finance background should help" if he is elected mayor, Redding said. "It appears there is a need for person-to-person relationships and personnel direction within the police department."

The two candidates often have been at odds over management of the police department, the mayor's primary administrative duty.

One issue where Redding and Newcomer came down on opposite sides was whether to hire a firm to conduct a study of the police department, a motion that the council voted down earlier this year.

"Before we go with a $50,000 or $55,000 study, I thought we could organize an in-house team to conduct that study," Redding said. Redding said voters need to consider the future of the department in a borough he says "is growing by leaps and bounds."

The selection of a new chief will also have to be dealt as Chief Michael T. DeFrank considers retirement within the next few years, Redding said.

"If re-elected, my knowledge of what is really going in the police department, with patrols, overtime" is experience that would help him in a second term, Newcomer said. His experience in the private sector, he said. One change about to go into effect, he said, is the hiring of a person internally to serve as the office manager to handle the department's administrative affairs.

"People know what I've done. I've not only worked with the department, but I've been able to reach out to the community," said Newcomer. That includes working with the Hispanic community, help in creating the Cold Weather Drop-In Shelter, rail-trail project and heading up an effort to get a statue honoring the town's founders, he said.

"What they have is an active mayor. One who is in his office everyday and who is active in the community," he said.

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