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Commission candidates talk about growth, taxes and budget

May 06, 2007|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA.-Growth, whether it be in development, the budget or taxes, is on the minds of most of the dozen candidates for the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, a field that will grow much smaller following the May 15 primary.

Seven Republicans and five Democrats are vying for the two nominations in each party that will be decided by the primary. The top three of the four nominees in the November election will form the board of commissioners, and there will be at least two new commissioners with incumbents G. Warren Elliott, a Republican, and Cheryl Plummer, a Democrat, not running for re-election.

Candidates were sent a questionnaire that asked them, among other things, what is the most pressing issue facing the county. Their answers appear on pages A12 and A13.

Incumbent Republican Robert L. Thomas and Republicans Ben Statler, a county employee, and Samuel F. Cressler, a Southampton Township supervisor, cited managing the county's rapid growth, along with Democrats Cheryl Stearn and Don Richards, former chairman of the county's Democratic Committee.

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"We are in danger of losing the quality of life we cherish," wrote Stearn, a businesswoman, stating she would expand the county Planning Department "so that it could offer some significant recommendation on land-use and development proposals."

Democrat James C. Zeger said the most pressing issue was the threat to the quality of life, which he connected to development and the demands it places on services, infrastructure, recreation and the environment.

Property taxes topped the list for Republicans Carl Barton and Douglas Tengler, a former Waynesboro (Pa.) Borough Council president, and Democrat Bob Ziobrowski, former president of the Chambersburg School Board. The 2007 county budget included no tax increase, but Barton, a retired federal analyst, wrote that the last time that happened four years ago, taxes increased 14 percent the following year.

Heading the agenda for Democrat Clint Barkdoll, a Waynesboro attorney, is controlling the county budget.

"Since 1995, the county budget has increased by more than 320 percent" while taxes doubled between 2001 and 2006, Barkdoll wrote.

"Specific issues vary, but the constant challenge remains the same - holding government accountable to the people it serves while controlling its size and scope," wrote Republican Carl W. Helman, a former Chambersburg Borough councilman.

"I will work for farmland preservation to keep our economy's No. 1 industry strong, to keep our landscape beautiful and to preserve our environment," wrote Republican David S. Keller, a computer network consultant and former congressional candidate.

Democrats and Republicans may vote for two candidates in their respective primaries.

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