Six to vie for five seats on council

October 30, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, PA. -- Five seats on the seven-member Greencastle Borough Council are up for grabs in Tuesday's general election.

The five incumbents -- Charlie Eckstine, Mark Singer, Michele Emmett, Harry Foley and Craig Myers -- will attempt to secure their seats against sole challenger Matthew D. Smith.

This election year is an anomaly for the borough because it needs to fill two more positions than normal due to midterm resignations, Franklin County Deputy Chief Clerk Jean Byers said.

Byers said voters need to fill the remaining two years on two of the council seats.

Former council members Nancy Dunn and Chris Grimm both resigned from the council before the end of their terms.

The council appointed Emmett to Dunn's seat in 2008. When Grimm resigned in 2009, the council appointed Singer to fill his slot.


State law required those positions be added to the ballot at the next municipal election, Byers said.

Because Emmett and Smith will appear on the ballot for both two-year and four-year terms, the council could end up appointing as many as two new members again in January, Byers said.

If Emmett and/or Smith win both a two-year and a four-year seat on Nov. 3, they must choose just one seat, she said.

The remaining seat or seats will fall to the council to fill by appointment, she said.

Emmett, 56, a mental health professional, said she is encouraging voters to darken the circle next to her name under both headings.

"I look at it this way-- now, they have two chances to vote for me," she said.

Since being appointed to the council, Emmett said she has taken an academic approach to her role as a public servant.

"I believe strongly in collaborative government, in the people working with elected officials to bring about results," she said.

Doing her homework, listening to the public and educating herself on the issues, Emmett said it has been her goal to make informed and rational choices on behalf of her constituents.

Emmett said she wants to continue serving on the council to carry on the work she began in 2008, which included turning to the public to establish a long-range plan.

Eckstine and Foley shared her sentiment of wanting to finish what they started on the council.

Having served a total of 16 years as an elected official, including two terms in the 1970s, Eckstine, 69, a retired airline pilot, said these last four years have been the most productive for the council.

Appointing a new police chief, hiring a new manager, and making storm-water upgrades and much needed improvements to major roads all have come about during Eckstine's latest term.

With some projects such as the right-turn lane on U.S. 11 south still in the works, Eckstine said his desire is to see the projects through to the end.

Foley, 64, a retired educator, echoed Eckstine's sentiment, saying, "The main reason I have chosen to run another four years is to see some projects that were started come to a finish."

Foley has pushed for months for the borough to take a hard look at its sidewalk policy. With sidewalks scheduled to be a major agenda item in 2010, Foley said he would like to continue the work he has done.

While some candidates have a history of public service, Smith, 31, a manager at Citi in Hagerstown, said if elected, this would be his first crack at public office.

"It has always been something I've been interested in doing," he said. "Now, the opportunities are here, there are positions open, so I thought I'd give it a shot."

Born and raised in the area, Smith said he attended meetings, saw things he liked and disliked, and wanted to take an active approach to making changes.

"I don't have my own agenda," he said. "I seriously just want what is best for the borough and its residents."

Singer, 39, a professor at Kaplan University in Hagerstown, agreed, saying he, too, does not have an agenda. What he does have is a fresh perspective and a desire to mold the borough's future.

"I have been on the council since April, and while I am honored to have their support, I'd like the support of the voters," he said. "I look at the facts before I make decision, and if the people like what I am doing, they can support it with their vote."

Myers did not return multiple calls and messages from The Herald-Mail.

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