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Richards to seek seat on Franklin Co. board

April 06, 2007|by DON AINES

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Don Richards ran for the Franklin County Board of Commissioners in 2003 and has thrown his hat in the ring again, seeking one of the two Democratic nominations in the May 15 primary.

Richards, 55, of Greencastle, has been active in Democratic politics for 30 years, and chaired the county's Democratic Committee from 2001 to 2004. In addition to his bid for commissioner in 2003, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for state senator in 2004.

If elected, Richards said he will work to improve the pay of county employees, especially those who provide direct care, such as workers at the county nursing home.

"The county pay scale is really bad for people just starting out," Richards said. Considerable money also is wasted in hiring and training employees who then are lured away to better paying jobs with other counties, he said.

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"I want to make sure our programs for our senior citizens are adequately funded," Richards said. With a growing population of senior citizens, he said the county's transportation system should be expanded, and the cost of rides reduced to serve them.

"We need reasoned economic growth. We have enough warehouses, we need better paying, family supporting jobs," Richards stated in his announcement. "It is a pity that they are building all of these fantastic homes that our own children can't afford to buy."

The board of commissioners is limited in what it can do to directly influence the economy, but by working with economic development groups, "they can set the tone," Richards said. Tax incentive packages and other means can be used to attract businesses and industries that pay higher wages and retain the ones already in the county, he said.

Better access to health care and more support for volunteer fire companies and ambulance squads also were goals listed in Richards' announcement.

At the same time, Richards said, "We need to hold the line on taxes" by making county government more efficient."

"I will be very hands on and, frankly, I will have my nose in every office and department to see what we can do to cut costs without cutting services," Richards stated in his announcement. One measure was to not give elected officials yearly raises during their term in office, he said.

Richards, a manufacturing engineer with Jerr-Dan Corp., said he also would consider an incentive program to pay bonuses to county employees who find ways to cut costs.

This year's primary race is the most crowded in memory, with seven Republican and five Democratic candidates. The top two from each party will advance to the general election.

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