Chambersburg voters see choices in council races

October 24, 2005|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Fourth Ward voters in Chambersburg will be choosing a new council member in the Tuesday, Nov. 8, general election while those in the Fifth Ward will be deciding between the Republican incumbent and a Democratic challenger.

The candidates are vying for four-year terms with council members being paid $4,125 a year, according to the borough salary schedule.

Fourth Ward

Republican Mary Beth Shank and Democrat Juan Catano, both running for office for the first time, are on the ballot to succeed former councilman John Redding, who recently moved to another ward and is the GOP candidate for mayor.


"I enjoy politics and come from a family that enjoys politics. I want to be involved in my community," said Shank, 27, of 357 Glen St. An attorney with the firm of LopezNeuhart, Shank is the daughter of Chambersburg Tax Collector William "Buzz" Shank and brother of former councilman Kevin Tanger.

Shank said she has been attending council meetings to familiarize herself with issues, but said her priority, if elected, "is to represent my constituents and their concerns."

"I just want people to get to know the Hispanic community," said Catano, 22, of 177 E. Washington St. "Hispanics need to get involved in the community. I want the culture to be more mixed, more diverse," said Catano, a manager trainee with Berkeley Contract Packaging of Carlisle, Pa.

He said his concerns include improved streets in the ward and borough and, while he believes the police department does a good job, more Hispanic officers would be a plus in dealing with that fast-growing demographic.

Fifth Ward

Republican incumbent Kenneth L. Gill is running for a second term against Democrat Heath Talhelm.

"I'm running for change. I believe the people of the Fifth Ward and borough deserve better," said Talhelm, 34, of 840 Brandon Drive, who won the Democratic nomination in May as a write-in candidate. "As a blue-collar worker with a family, I can better relate to the struggles of my constituents," said Talhelm, a construction inspector with Hillis-Carnes Engineering Associates of Hagerstown.

"I think having some common sense and the ability to work with people is better than any degree sometimes," said Talhelm.

Talhelm said he supports a study of the police department to determine its future manpower needs in light of the borough's rapid residential and commercial growth. Developers, rather than current borough taxpayers, should shoulder most of the financial burden for increased public services, he said.

"There's a lot of challenges facing the borough and I think with my financial background ... I can make a contribution," said Gill, 62, of 631 Wallace Ave. "I want to see that the borough provides services in the most cost-effective manner," said Gill, the director of finance at Penn State Mont Alto for the past 17 years and chairman of the borough's Finance Committee.

Faced with increased energy costs and rising real estate taxes at the municipal, school district and county levels in recent years, the borough has to deal with a growing demand for services while keeping taxes as low as possible, he said.

"Tax revenues may go up ... but so will services," Gill said of the construction boom in the borough. In general, he said, a new housing unit will create about $1.16 in demand for services for every $1 it generates in tax revenue.

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