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Three aim to reclaim Borough Council seats

May 09, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - Three past members of the Chambersburg Borough Council are seeking to regain their seats, vying for nominations in the May 15 primary.

Second Ward

Former mayor and councilman Tom Newcomer and former councilman Allen Frantz are running for the Republican nomination in the Second Ward.

Newcomer, 62, represented the ward for 10 years until becoming mayor in 2002. Retired from Allegheny Energy, Newcomer was defeated by John Redding in his bid for re-election in 2005.

As mayor, Newcomer said he brought together area churches to create the Cold Weather Drop-In Shelter and worked with ministers downtown to begin addressing the needs of the Hispanic community. If elected, he said the council "must start thinking of ways to reduce the tax burden on property owners and shift it to the actual users of services."

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Frantz, 46, served one four-year term before being defeated by Councilwoman Janet Lukic in 2005. He said he was encouraged to run again by Second Ward Councilwoman Ruth Harbaugh, who chose not to run for re-election.

"I enjoyed it. I was disappointed I lost by such a small margin," said Frantz, the body shop manager for Jennings Chevrolet-Cadillac. "I want to do like I've done in the past - be available to the residents of the Second Ward and stay on the same pace we have for planned community growth ... to grow the tax base to preclude any large tax increases."

Fifth Ward

Fifth Ward incumbent Robert A. Wareham, 66, a councilman for 30 years, is being challenged for the GOP nomination by Kenneth Gill, who served one term before losing to Democrat Heath Talhelm in 2005.

A retired teacher, Wareham said his goals are to maintain a strong police force, continue the program of street improvements and keep utility costs low. Although the borough owns its electric, gas, sewer and water systems, Wareham said regulatory changes have cost the borough and its customers, particularly for electricity.

Wareham said he wants to "hold the line on taxes," noting there have been three increases in 16 years, including one this year to add police officers. The fire department, without a chief for 1 1/2 years, needs to be restructured, he said.

"Even though I've been on the council before, I think I bring some new ideas," said Gill, 63, the director of finance at the Penn State Mont Alto campus. "The borough faces some financial challenges in the years ahead, and I think I can be of some use with my background."

Gill said his previous service on the Parks and Recreation Committee, helping draft its master plan, also is useful. "It's going to be a big challenge to implement that plan," Gill said.

Finding a way to pay for $3 million in renovations to the Memorial Park pool without placing too much of a burden on taxpayers will be a priority, he said.

Fourth Ward

Two-term Democratic incumbent Sharon Bigler is facing a challenge from Charles Kopack for her Fourth Ward seat.

"This past year, I've seen an ever-growing deterioration of neighborhoods that were once pristine and quiet," said Bigler, 56, an advocate of the police and fire services. Homeowners are concerned about property values, litter, graffiti and being safe on their streets, she said.

"A year ago, I asked that we look into enacting a strong public nuisance order, but sadly, my request was quickly blown off as being unrealistic," Bigler said. Despite that, Bigler said she will again try to get an ordinance enacted.

"I want to give back to the community, and I think we get better government when the citizens are involved," said Kopack, 58, a retired program manager with the Department of the Army. Managing growth is one of his priorities, he said.

Property owners are being forced to pay for roads and services for people moving into the area, Kopack said. He wants local governments to lobby the state to pass legislation allowing impact fees on new development.

"To me, it's the developers' fair share," he said.

Council President William McLaughlin is unopposed in his bid for the Republican nomination in the First Ward, as is Third Ward Councilwoman Elaine Swartz.

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